Monday, August 10, 2015

SOUTH AFRICA - Migrant Fear

"Living in fear after attacks on migrants in South Africa" PBS NewsHour 8/5/2015


SUMMARY:  In South Africa this year there has been a wave of xenophobic attacks against migrants coming from other parts of Africa.  Special correspondent Martin Seemungal looks at roots of the violence and the fear that these foreigners face.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  We turn now to South Africa, where a wave of violence against migrants earlier this year left many victims frightened and the government struggling for a solution to the resurgence of xenophobia, the fear of people from other countries.

NewsHour special correspondent Martin Seemungal has our report from Durban, South Africa.

A warning:  Some of the images in this story may be disturbing.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL (NewsHour):  Six dead, hundreds injured, 5,000 migrants forced to seek refuge in hastily organized camps, all due to a wave of anti-foreigner violence in South Africa.

Police have watched over this refugee camp for immigrants for two months, guarding people who came here for safety, being told now it is time to return home.

Anicet Bigirimana is from Burundi.  He says the attack on his family was sudden and extremely violent.

ANICET BIGIRIMANA, Migrant:  The first time they came, they put — they took my son.  They put him — a tire in the petrol.  They almost burned him.  But today — there’s another neighbor who grip (grabbed) him from their hands.  That’s how they started.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:  This Somali immigrant running for his life from a group of South Africans also survived, this attack, one of many in April, part of a wave of xenophobic attacks against other Africans living and working here.

According to official statistics, there are just over two million immigrants in South Africa, and somewhere between 500,000 and one million are undocumented.  The worst violence was in the Durban area.  Parts of downtown became battle zones, as migrants fought back.

It appeared to be part of a systematic campaign against people from African countries, in particular Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Congo, and Malawi, but there is no clear indication who was responsible for organizing the attacks.

Chris Van Den Berg is a city councilman for a district in Durban that includes a number of villages in the surrounding hills.

CHRIS VAN DEN BERG, City Councillor, Durban:  There was a group about 80-odd plus, people with bangers and bush knives, telling people very clearly that they could not be here Sunday morning, that they were going to be — they were either going to be killed or attacked.

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