IOM and Partners Plan Response to Potential Xenophobic Violence in South Africa

Posted: 
07/12/10

IOM is currently working with the South African Government, UN
agencies and local NGOs to plan for a possible exodus of vulnerable
Zimbabwean migrants fleeing threats of post World Cup xenophobic
violence in South Africa.

The IOM reception and support centre located in the border town
of Beitbridge reports increased traffic of Zimbabweans who have
decided to temporarily return home because of fears of xenophobic
flare-ups in South Africa.

The town of Musina, situated approximately 20 km from the
Zimbabwean border, is a traditional entry/exit point for a large
number of Zimbabwean migrants. However, cross-border flows over the
last week of the World Cup were atypically characterised by trucks
laden with furniture and other household goods, indicating that
people are anticipating outbreaks of xenophobic violence and are
sending their belongings back to Zimbabwe to minimise losses, and
to allow for a quicker flight should they need to make a quick
getaway.

"I cannot risk the life of my family while trying to watch the
World Cup final," said Ellias, a 26-old Zimbabwean from Gwanda, who
is married with two children. He was passing through Musina on his
way from Mamelodi Township near Pretoria.

Over the weekend, IOM conducted interviews with returning
migrants on the Zimbabwean side of the border, with more than 90
per cent of the 140 interviewed stating they had fled threats of
violence and 10 per cent stating that they had already suffered
xenophobic violence prior to their departure.

On-going contingency plans carried out with partner agencies
include the pre-positioning of food and hygiene packs as well as
measures to allow prompt document processing in case of a large
influx of returning Zimbabweans. In addition, provisions are being
made to provide adequate transportation from the border to various
locations in Zimbabwe should the need arise.

IOM is also working with its partners in the One Movement to
prevent xenophobic attacks through a targeted public information
campaign to counter the negative rumours circulating. The
campaign's goals are to emphasise harmony and unity within the
community via the local churches and mass media outlets such as
newspapers and radio stations, as well as a door-to-door campaign
in conjunction with the SAPS (South African Police Service).

The One Movement campaign was launched in March 2009 under the
patronage of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and uses media, community
conversations, youth mobilization, curriculum interventions and
human rights training in partnership with a wide range of civil
society partners to promote a culture of tolerance, human dignity
and unity in diversity across southern Africa.

South African Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced
yesterday that the army and police would immediately deploy in the
Western Cape Province to protect the lives of immigrants from
African countries. A number of foreign nationals have reportedly
fled their homes in Nyanga, Philippi East and Khayelitsha districts
to seek refuge at police stations due to fears of xenophobic
attacks.

For more information, please contact:

Newton Muli

IOM Pretoria

Tel: +27 12 342 2789

E-mail: "mailto:nmuli@iom.int" target="" title=
"">nmuli@iom.int