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Igbo group cautions African leaders over xenophobic attacks

The Igbo Studies Association (ISA) has joined in the global condemnation of the xenophobic attacks and other acts of violence perpetrated against African immigrants in South Africa.

The association, in a statement signed by Dr Chima Korieh, their president, said that these attacks, especially against ‘Nigerians many of whom are Igbo living in South Africa have resulted in deaths and injuries.’

“Since the fall of apartheid in 1994, and in the post-apartheid ANC-led government, South Africa has enjoyed economic growth thanks in part to many immigrants moving to the country for job and leisure. However, just as in 2008, waves of xenophobic attacks that occurred in April 2015 have threatened the lives and well-being of African immigrants in the country. The ISA implores the government of South Africa to step up and protect the lives and property of immigrants who contribute to the cultural diversity and economic vitality of the country.

“The sacrificial role which African countries played in the successful anti-apartheid movement in South Africa is beyond dispute. The ISA considers as rather unfortunate the position of President Jacob Zuma that African immigrants provoked the assaults and his further questioning as to why the immigrants are not in their own countries. We believe that such an inflammatory statement could potentially undermine the peaceful co-existence of people as well as the political and economic stability of South Africa,” the group stated.

Describing the attacks as a threat to the diplomatic relationship between South Africa and its African neighbours, the group opined ‘the continent needs leaders who are intellectually and temperamentally attuned to the complexities of South Africa’s social and economic realities.’

“More importantly, needed also are leaders who are willing to use diplomatic means to prevent these attacks from resulting into a full-scale crisis,” it said.

The body, however, urged ‘African countries whose citizens are affected by this inexcusable violence to resist the temptation to allow this incident to damage their relationships with South Africa, a bond that has been strengthened by the demise of apartheid.’

It advised, therefore, that the ‘’ tragic incident should be seen as an opportunity to collectively address the enduring ‘economic apartheid’ that persists even after the collapse of political apartheid in South Africa and colonial rule throughout the African continent.’

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