The experience of xenophobia in South Africa

Vromans, Lyn, Schweitzer, Robert D., Knoetze, Katharine, & Kagee, Ashraf (2011) The experience of xenophobia in South Africa. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(1), pp. 90-93.

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In May 2008, xenophobic violence erupted in South Africa. The targets were individuals who had migrated from the north in search of asylum. Emerging first in township communities around Johannesburg, the aggression spread to other provinces. Sixty-two people died, and 100,000 (20,000 in the Western Cape alone) were displaced. As the attacks escalated across the country, thousands of migrants searched for refuge in police stations and churches. Chilling stories spread about mobs armed with axes, metal bars, and clubs. The mobs stormed from shack to shack, assaulted migrants, locked them in their homes, and set the homes on fire. The public reaction was one of shock and horror. The Los Angeles Times declared, “Migrants Burned Alive in S. Africa.” The South African president at the time, Thabo Mbeki, called for an end to “shameful and criminal attacks.” Commentators were stunned by the signs of hatred of foreigners (xenophobia) that emerged in the young South African democracy. The tragedy of the violence in South Africa was magnified by the fact that many of the victims had fled from violence and persecution in their countries of origin. Amid genocidal violations of human rights that had recently occurred in some countries in sub- Saharan Africa, the new South Africa stood as a beacon of democracy and respect for human dignity. With this openness in mind, many immigrants to South Africa sought safety and refuge from the conflicts in their homelands. More than 43,500 refugees and 227,000 asylum seekers now live in South Africa. The majority of people accorded refugee status came from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia. South Africa also hosts thousands of other migrants who remain undocumented.

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6 citations in Scopus
3 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 40402
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: South Africa, immigrants, refugees, xenophobia, violence, trauma
DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2010.01075.x
ISSN: 0002-9432
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Deposited On: 03 Mar 2011 22:20
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:42

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