“2008 CoRMSA Report - Protecting Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants in South Africa” is issued annually in commemoration of World Refugee Day on 20 June. The report represents research by members of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), a national network of service providers and research bodies. The findings have been compiled over a six-month period using surveys, in-depth interviews and a review of relevant documents, legislation and policies.
The Department of Housing has dismissed suggestions in a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report that dissatisfaction over housing delivery was one of the key reasons behind the xenophobic violence this year.
HSRC chief research specialist in the democracy and governance research programme, Adrian Hadland, points out that 36 focus groups convened in the troubled communities in four different areas immediately after the violence. The report had repeatedly cited a major grievance that foreigners have houses when, in fact, they did not.
In May this year, South Africa witnessed widespread xenophobic attacks. Violence against foreign nationals is not new to the country; the problem has just worsened. Despite this and much speculation of the causes and triggers of the violence, no effective measures have been taken to address this conflict.
A number of reports released after the attacks, highlight various issues contributing to xenophobia, some of which include poor service delivery and competition for resources.
Violence and Xenophobia in South Africa: Developing Consensus, Moving to Action is a report on the outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa in May 2008. The report is based on a roundtable hosted in June 2008 in Pretoria that was attended by around 50 key stakeholders from government, civil society and from affected communities. It isthe result of a partnership between the Democracy and Governance (D&G) research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the British High Commission of South Africa.
The Forced Migration Studies Programme (FMSP) at the University of the Witwatersrand is determined to unpack the likely reasons for the recent xenophobic attacks in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg.
FMSP believes that the reasons why the hostility exploded in some places and not in others with similar conditions, lie in how the communities are organised.
FMSP’s Jean Pierre Misago says: “We’re not interested in actually finding individuals who did that but in whether there was kind of a community mobilisation that was behind it.”
The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) is launching an inquiry into complaints made against its staff in South Africa.
The move follows allegations by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the AIDS Law Project (ALP) and the displaced people’s representatives, that the UNHCR observed horrific conditions in the refugee camps over several months, but did not take appropriate intervention.
UNHCR’s Antonio Guterres says the UNHRC will fly a three-member panel to the country to conduct the inquiry.
20 June 2008 was World Refugee Day. The theme for this year was ‘Refugee Protection’. For Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), it was a little ironic. In fact, MSF marked the day by placing public messages in major national and regional newspapers, calling for the South African government and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide the necessary assistance and legal protection to Zimbabweans guaranteed under international law.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) launched its first dialogue series on constitutional values on 22 August in Johannesburg. Held under the theme “Unity in Diversity: Promoting and Advancing Constitutional Values in South Africa”, representatives from government, human rights organisations and civil society came together to discuss constitutional values in a democratic society.
SANGONeT, 15 June 2008.
The Southern Africa Trust (SAT) in collaboration with the Foundation for Community Development, held a one-day meeting on “A Response to the Regional Human Security Impact on Attacks on Immigrants in South Africa” on 10 June 2008 in Maputo, Mozambique.