GENEVA, Switzerland, January 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -6 IOM has condemned violence directed against foreign nationals and their businesses by Soweto residents, which has now spread to two other Johannesburg townships – Alexandra and Langlaagte.
The violence serves as a painful reminder of the continued vulnerability of migrants in South Africa. As the migration agency, IOM is calling on the government to take urgent measures to protect the safety, the property and the dignity of all South African residents, including foreign nationals.
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Migrants are disproportionally affected by violent crime, often because of the areas in which they live and work. Negative public perceptions of migrants can make them targets and if they are easily recognizable, criminals and mobs can single them out.
“Prejudices and stereotypes about migrants unfortunately fuel the sentiments of those who choose to loot and plunder the shops of hard-working entrepreneurs, simply because of their ethnic background. The misperception still exists that migrants come to South Africa to steal jobs and take advantage of the social system. In reality, many migrants create jobs and generate economic activity, which benefits all South Africans,” said Richard Ots, IOM’s Chief of Mission in South Africa.
IOM is inviting the government to engage in dialogue with migrants and civil society organizations to discuss the role, the position and the image of migrants in the country.
“We commend the government for publicly taking a stand against looting, intolerance and discrimination, and we offer our support to help find ways to further promote the inclusiveness and multiculturalism that South Africa is famous for,” said Ots.