African states rush to aid xenophobia victims in S. Africa
15 April 2015
Somalia will facilitate the repatriation of its nationals who have been affected by ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa – if they are willing to return home.
"Affected Somali citizens willing to go back home will be assisted," Abdi Halane Hirsi, Somali cultural attaché in Pretoria, told The Anadolu Agency.
He said the Somali government always helps repatriate citizens exposed to dangerous situations abroad.
"We did it in South Sudan and [we are doing it] currently in Yemen," he said.
Hirsi said a large number of Somali citizens had been affected by ongoing violence in South Africa's coastal city of Durban.
"Our head of mission, Mohammed Ali Mire, is currently in Durban coordinating with our community there and government officials," he told AA.
Last week, mobs of South Africans descended on the homes and shops of foreign migrants in Durban, accusing them of stealing jobs, committing crimes and putting a burden on social services.
They looted shops and homes and drove a number of migrants from their township dwellings.
Many migrants are now being accommodated at temporary refugee camps.
Five people have died so far in the ongoing violence, including an Ethiopian man whose shop was petrol-bombed by a mob.
The attacks came shortly after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini reportedly suggested that foreign nationals in South Africa return to their native countries.
He has since denied making the comments, insisting that his remarks were mistranslated.
There are hundreds of thousands of African migrants living in South Africa, the majority of whom are involved in the informal business sector.
These have been the most affected by recent violence, with locals looting their shops and homes whenever there are service delivery protests.
Seven years ago, more than 50 African migrants lost their lives when mobs of angry South Africans attacked them across the country. Experts say the attacks were motivated by xenophobia.
Hirsi said the Somali embassy had voiced its sincere appreciation for the South African government and people, who quickly responded to help save the lives of threatened migrants and their property.
"We believe the South African authorities will contain this violence," he said. "It is manageable; we trust them."
President Jacob Zuma, who hails from the province of KwaZulu Natal, has condemned the xenophobic attacks taking place in his home province.
He has since dispatched the ministers of home affairs, police and state security to Durban to follow up on the disturbances.
Salih Omar Abdu, Eritrea's ambassador to South Africa, said all Eritrean citizens in the country were safe.
"All Eritrean nationals are safe. We are in communication with them," Abdu told AA by phone.
The ambassador said his countrymen in South Africa had shut their shops and planned to reopen their businesses once the violence had been contained.
"At the moment, they have not sought any assistance from the embassy," he added.
Malawi, for its part, has hired buses from South Africa to begin the voluntary repatriation of its nationals caught up in recent violence.
"The buses are expected to arrive in Malawi from South Africa with the returnees on Sunday," Malawian Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa told reporters in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
Received on Thu Apr 16 2015 - 13:06:59 EDT