n Conflict Trends - Migration and xenophobia in South Africa

Volume 2009, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Xenophobia became a wildfire that started in Alexandra, South Africa in May 2008, and rapidly spread nationwide. In the following days and months, over 70 migrants were killed and tens of thousands were expelled from their homes and communities by South Africans. Foreign-owned businesses were destroyed, amounting to over R1.5 billion in damages. And while foreign-national businesses contribute to almost 25% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in South Africa, the South African government has made no move to assist in compensation or further assistance for businesses that were destroyed during the attacks. Moreover, the poor response by government and lack of migration policies has reinforced public perceptions : a South African Migration Project (SAMP) 2006 study revealed that South African nationals are "particularly intolerant of non-nationals, and especially African non-nationals". Based upon recent data and reports, this article seeks to review the implications of South Africa's response to migration, specifically in light of the 2008 xenophobic violence in South Africa, and the broader links to regional migration from its neighbouring countries.

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