South Africa urged to protect refugees from xenophobia

Amnesty International asks South African authorities to do more for refugees, whom locals blame for 'stealing jobs'

South Africa urged to protect refugees from xenophobia

World Bulletin / News Desk

Amnesty International appealed to South African authorities on Monday to step up its protective measures for refugees and asylum seekers who often face xenophobic attacks in the country.

In a written statement to mark World Refugee Day, Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane, executive director Amnesty International South Africa, said security of refugees in South Africa had frequently come under threat after they were accused of stealing jobs from locals and blamed for other service delivery challenges.

“The authorities must protect refugees and ensure they are integrated into the society. They must also involve them in critical decisions affecting their stay in the country,” she said.

World Refugee Day is marked annually on June 20 to raise awareness about the plight of refugees across the globe.

South Africa, which hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers from war-torn African countries and beyond, has witnessed a number of anti-immigrant attacks.

In May 2008, at least 62 people lost their lives and hundreds were injured in cross-country riots that saw mobs initially target the homes of migrants from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Seven years later, at least seven people were killed in anti-foreigner violence that began in Durban but soon spread to Johannesburg.

The rioting was sparked by claims that migrants had taken jobs from native South Africans; they were also held responsible for alleged rise in crime and being a burden on social services.

Two months back, several shops owned by foreigners were ransacked in Katlehong township, 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Johannesburg, in one of the latest episodes of xenophobia plaguing post-apartheid South Africa.

“Continued attacks on refugees and asylum seekers and their livelihoods remain a major concern in the country,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Malus Gigaba said South Africa remains steadfast in dealing with xenophobia.

“There is much that South Africans can learn from the entrepreneurship of those who traversed several kilometers to seek refuge in our country,” Gigaba said during an event to mark World Refugee Day in Johannesburg.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma said his government had developed a strategy to avoid a repeat of major xenophobic attacks in the country by putting all security agencies on alert.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Haziran 2016, 15:12