Xenophobia can be defined in many ways. For example, Oxford online dictionary describes it as “An intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries”. Based on Wikipedia website, xenophobia is the “unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.” This is a subject that one can argue has not spoken enough or been raised in irrelevant platforms. Unfortunately, almost every country in the world experienced xenophobia.
People are actively discriminating against people of other countries or region worldwide nowadays. Xenophobia, unlike racism, is not largely controlled by skin colour, but rather by originality and descent. Nonetheless, it usually defended by ignorant or uninformed views of those that embrace discrimination and human rights abuses. For example, xenophobia in Russia, United States and South Africa showed that number of people and civil society organisations have not been silent on this deed which possesses evil traits. They have been engaging each other but also taking positive steps to eradicate it. Luckily, government is taking leading role by trying the best to battle against this serious scenario that occur often nowadays.
A clear example is the South African government’s response to the 2008 xenophobic attacks on foreigners particularly those from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Somalia. The reason that lead to xenophobia happened in 2008 is locals accused the immigrants that ranged from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe of taking jobs away from them, among other grievances. Violence occurred due to the absence of official, institutionalized leadership that could represent the full diversity of the community. Over two weeks’ time, over 60 foreigners were killed, several hundred injured, and many thousands of immigrants are now displaced, or are returning to their home countries. Therefore, The South African government played an important role to condemn these attacks and offered support to victims. Civil society also existed as religious organisations that offered temporary shelter while other organisations facilitated fundraising to support victims.
Many societal problems were being raised as the causes of xenophobia, such an increased competition for employment and opportunities. The rise in unemployment and the government’s inability to deliver services to the people has led to an increase in the number of protest actions in the country. These services delivery protests often take place in predominantly poorer areas of the looting and destruction of their properties. These attacks have resulted in deaths in some instances. Whilst it has been noted that xenophobic attacks have taken place predominantly in townships or informal settlements, negative feelings about foreign nationals are said to transcend race, class and gender.
Also, there is a great divide between the rich and poor and skilled and unskilled workers in the country. Xenophobia is similar to racism, tribalism and misogyny. This stigma is usually rooted on ignorance and through some leading members of community who perpetuate its existence. So the first step in eradicating xenophobia is through education of communities.
There is a strong link with long-standing concerns among informal educators around community and participation and for the significance of the group. Communities appear to be an effective way for organizations to handle unstructured problems and to share knowledge outside of the traditional structural boundaries. This concept also becomes a means of developing and maintaining long-term organizational memory. In addition, social capital becomes an integral part to change by resulting in greater knowledge sharing that positively influences business performance.
Although CoRSMA made recommendations to the Inter-Ministerial Committee set up to deal with xenophobia, the gaps in addressing xenophobia still remain. These recommendations include: the need to strengthen the ability to detect and respond to threats or outbreaks of xenophobic violence; the need for political leaders to publicly condemn all threats or outbreaks of xenophobic violence; the need to strengthen conflict resolution and prevention mechanisms at the community level; the need to strengthen access to justice for victims of xenophobic violence; the need to strengthen disaster management systems; and assistance to displaced persons.
One of the main issues that need to be addressed is to develop a coordinated plan to deal with xenophobia. Collaboration between state and non-state actors is important both for guidance and support. For instance, CoRSMA serves in the steering committee chaired by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and set up to develop a National Action Plan to address racism, racial intolerance, xenophobia and related intolerance; this ensures that issues directly affecting migrants and their potential to fully integrate are incorporated in the plan.
Furthermore, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mentioned that “The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an opportunity to renew our commitment to building a world of justice and equality where xenophobia and bigotry do not exist. We must learn the lessons of history and acknowledge the profound damage caused by racial discrimination.” Thus, it is crucial to learn from the past in order to resolve problems of the day based on the United Nations’ 2015 theme “Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today”. This assists us in preventing these tragedies from taking place again.
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action urges all members of society to fight against these types of impediments and calls on governments to combat forms of racism, xenophobia and related matters by implementing stronger policies. It is really up to individuals especially young people by ensuring to strive and do the best to create harmony and peace of the society. Difference approaches in having way of life signify beauty rather than the superiority or inferiority complex. Love each other would be the best solution to create a better social life.
Nkosikhona Raphael Duma
Latest posts by Nkosikhona Raphael Duma (see all)
- Xenophobia - 21 March 2015
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