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Xenophobic attack: UNHCR pledges to work with S. Africa on refugee issue

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(Xinhua/NAN) The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday pledged to work with the South African government in providing protection to refugees, where xenophobic attacks occurred.


The UNHCR “is working closely with the South African authorities to continue providing protection through the issuance of appropriate identity documentation, to facilitate access to health care and education.


And also employment opportunities for all refugees and asylum seekers,” the agency said in a statement.


The UNHCR made the pledge after some refugees and asylum seekers, including women and children, have been gathering in front of UNHCR offices in Cape Town and Pretoria since on Tuesday.


They accused the South African government of ignoring their plight, not only in Johannesburg where recent xenophobic attacks occurred but also in Cape Town.


In Cape Town, the refugees, mostly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Nigeria, Somalia and Pakistan, asked the UNHCR to help them leave South Africa.


“We acknowledge the issues they raised, including employment and self-reliance, documentation, and personal security concerns,” the agency said.


“We are grateful to the South African government for the ongoing collaboration with UNHCR in the provision of international protection to those in need.


“And also finding immediate and long-term solutions for refugees and asylum seekers – most living in host communities who also face many socio-economic challenges,” the UNHCR said.


Also on Wednesday, the South African government said it remains resolute to the peaceful dialogue as the first option of resolving any form of dispute with refugees.


The government reiterated its commitment to building a society based on democratic values of social justice, human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism and the advancement of human rights. (Xinhua/NAN)


FAT/ABI

Edited by Fatima Sule/Ali Baba-Inuwa

Foreign

Allegedly xenophobic AfD ‘colouring book’ investigated in Germany

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Investigators in Germany are looking into an event held by regional parliamentarians from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party at which xenophobic “colouring books” were allegedly distributed.

“An incitement investigation is ongoing,’’ a police spokeswoman said on Tuesday in the city of Krefeld, where the event by the AfD’s North Rhine Westphalia state parliamentary group took place.

Report says prosecutors will also look into the matter.

The AfD parliamentary group described the criticism as an “attack on the freedom of art and satire.”

It spoke of an “art book with satirical sketches on the situation in the country” and said it was “inspired by a colouring book for adults.”

The book is named “North Rhine Westphalia for colouring’’.

It shows armed people under a Turkish flag. Under a banner proclaiming “We have to carry the can for this,” fully veiled women in a swimming pool and a hand with a knife can be seen.

Referring to a far-left, anti-fascist group, parliamentary group leader Markus Wagner said in a statement that “when Antifa extremists attack artistic freedom, there can only be one answer: we increase the number of copies!”

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ekemini Ladejobi

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Attacks on Nigerian businesses in S. Africa criminal, not xenophobic – says Mission

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The Consulate General of Nigeria in Johannesburg  says the Oct. 22 attack on businesses owned by Nigerians in Witbank in the Mpumalamga district of South Africa was a criminal act and not xenophobic.

The Nigerian Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama made the clarification in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency .

The consul general said that the attack, which occurred at about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22 was masterminded by taxi drivers under the guise of fighting crime.

Adama said that with the cooperation of the police the matter was resolved in less than an hour.

“We held a meeting with the police authorities and they led us to the place where the attack occurred.

“Although it happened in a different locality (from the previous one), we agreed to meet often to prevent reoccurrence.

“The police promised to invite the taxi drivers association and Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA) to a meeting to discuss and resolve issues amicably.

“There is no problem at the moment and we are monitoring the situation keenly and we have been able to reach a reasonable stage of agreement and help out.

“The government is doing everything here to fight crime. The locals take laws into their hands thinking that the police was not doing enough, which is what mostly leads to attack.

“People feel there is drug or human trafficking and security operatives are not meeting expectations, and so they take laws into their hands in order to fight crime, but it does not work that way.”

He commended the security agencies for cooperating with the Nigerian mission “in tackling issues that affect foreign nationals, particularly Nigerians living in that country”.

He said efforts would be made to preempt and stop any form of attack in future, rather than wait for it to happen.

He said that modalities had been put in place to ensure effective implementation of agreements reached by Nigeria and South Africa to prevent all forms of conflict between citizens of the two countries.

“There was nothing like xenophobia; this attack was crime-related and it is just that some criminals took advantage of the opportunity to carry out crime.

“We have draft rules and agreements in place; it is a people-to-people relationship we want to concentrate on.

“If it is government-to-government we do not have much problem at all.

“It is not a one-day matter to resolve, but such modality requires constant discussion platforms to enable people to be able to interact.

“To be able to arrest crime, it is better to take issues related to crime to the police station, rather than take laws into your hands,” he added. 


FEA/YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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Xenophobic attacks: Nigeria, South Africa will ensure implementation of Early Warning Mechanism — NIDCOM 

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Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) says the foreign affairs ministers of both South Africa and Nigeria will ensure the implementation of the Early Warning Signal mechanism recently signed by both countries.

The Executive Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa made this known on Wednesday in a statement issued by Mr Abdur-Rahman Balogun, the commission’s Head of Media Unit.

Dabiri-Erewa said that the mechanism was part of efforts to curb xenophobic attacks.

The NIDCOM CEO, who was reacting to the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, said that the Consul General was on top of the situation.

“On Tuesday, it was reported that South African citizens resumed xenophobic attacks against Nigerians living in Mpumalamga area of the country.

“The Consul General, Godwin Adama, is currently in Widbank, Mpumulanga, where the crisis happened.

“He is at a meeting with the highest police authorities there.

“The mission intervened immediately and the situation is currently under control.

“After this meeting, a meeting with Nigerians along with the South African Police will hold,” she was quoted as saying.

Dabiri-Erewa explained that further developments at would be taken up at the ministerial level, between the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries.

Nigeria News Agency reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Oct. 3 to Oct. 5 led a high-powered delegation to South Africa on a three-day state visit.

The visit followed series of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in September.

NAN further reports that series of agreements and Memorandum of Understanding were signed by leaders of both countries with a view to strengthening relations and putting an end all forms of hostility from the South Africans.


UU/YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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General news

3 Nigerians injured in fresh xenophobic attacks in South Africa

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Three Nigerians are among other foreign nationals who on Tuesday suffered from fresh xenophobic attacks on foreigners in different locations of Witbank, Mpumanlaga Province, South Africa, the Nigerian community has said.

The National Spokesperson of the Nigeria Union, South Africa (NUSA), Mr Odefa Ikele, told the Nigeria News Agency on telephone from Witbank, that the attacks started in the early hours of the morning.

Tuesday’s attacks are coming on the heels of efforts by Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure they found amicable and lasting solution to the xenophobia in the latter’s country.

Such peace efforts saw Buhari visiting Ramaphosa and holding a town hall meeting with the Nigerian community.

“Groups made up of community members and taxi drivers went to different areas in Witbank attacking foreign-owned businesses and foreigners.

“Three Nigerians are injured, but no death case for now. Some of our nationals are seeking refuge at Witbank Police Station,’’ he said.

According to NUSA, the affected Nigerians are still taking refuge at the police station at Witbank.

The details of the incident are still sketchy but NUSA also said that Police in the area have intervened and warned people to stay away from the Central Business District in the town.


PDE

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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General news

South Africa: Group makes case for victims of xenophobic attacks

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Mr Kingsley Ibokette, President of Akwa Ibom Indigenes Association in South Africa, has called on the Federal Government to assist Nigerians affected by xenophobia to re-settle.

Ibokette said in a statement e-mailed to the Nigeria News Agency from Pretoria, South Africa on Sunday that the attacks unsettled many Nigerians and other Africans.

He said that five members of the Akwa Ibom Indigenes Association were badly hit by the attacks.

“They lost virtually everything they had. Their houses were torched, lost businesses and means of livelihood and some want to go back home.

“We are in the process of registering them at the Nigerian Consulate to begin their journey home,’’ he said.

According to Ibokette, the association has assisted the victims within its capacity.

“We appeal to the Akwa Ibom Government and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to assist Akwa Ibom indigenes affected by the attacks.

“We have done the much we can to assist our people, but we believe that there is need for more assistance,’’ he said, adding that the victims needed the assistance urgently.

The association’s president commended Mr Allen Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Airline for evacuating Nigerians from South Africa free of charge.

“Onyema`s gesture gave Nigerians in South Africa prestige and sense of belonging and I appeal to other Nigerians to assist returnees to resettle.

Ibokette said that one way of checking xenophobia is to tackle poverty and create jobs for the people.

He said that there were many Nigerians doing well and contributing positively to the South African economy and other sectors. (NAN)


PR/PDE

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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South Africa: Xenophobic attacks on foreigners an embarrassment to Africa — Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday in Pretoria that the wave of deadly violence against foreign nationals including Nigerians in South Africa last month was an embarrassment to the continent.

According to details of his speech on the Nigerian presidency’s Twitter page, President Buhari stated this at a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in South Africa.

In September, rioting and attacks on foreigners led to at least 10 deaths, dozens of injuries and hundreds of arrests, triggering anger at home and abroad.

“The recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa.

“It was an embarrassment to the continent.

“As a government, we are quite disturbed by these very unfortunate events and have taken actions and measures to address this issue and prevent their a recurrence with the South African government,” he added.

Following the attacks, Buhari ordered the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians wanting to return home and around 600 people were repatriated.

Buhari met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday.

Both leaders expressed regret at the violence in South Africa and the subsequent reprisals in Nigeria against South African businesses, pledging instead to deepen trade ties.

Buhari called for peace at the town hall meeting.

“The authorities have expressed their apologies over the incidents and have resolved to take necessary steps to end this ugly trend in the interest of our relationship.

“Let us, therefore, give peace a chance and pray we have seen the last of this ugly violence,” he said. (Reuters/NAN)


FAT/YEE


(NAN)
(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)

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General news

Xenophobic attack : Oyo State receives returnees, promises assistance

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Oyo State Deputy Gov., Mr Rauf Olaniyan, on Wednesday formally received 30 victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa who are indigenes of the state.

Olaniyan, who received the returnees on behalf of the state Gov., Mr Seyi Makinde, assured them of the state government’s assistance.

He said the assistance would not be monetary, ”but a proper profiling of the returnees will be done to know specific areas to assist them, thereafter, they would make their proposals.”

Olaniyan said that the state government would consider those that qualified for government jobs when the state was ready to recruit workers.

He enjoined the returnees to abstain from any criminal acts, but see their return to their home-state as an opportunity to excel.

Olaniyan said the current administration in the state was working hard to provide favourable atmosphere for everyone to prosper.

The deputy governor announced a donation of a token of N30,000 to each of the 30 returnees as transport allowance back to their respective towns and villages.

Earlier, the Director of Media, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mr Abdul-Raman Balogun, on behalf of the Chairman of the Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri- Erewa, commended the state government for welcoming the returnees that were indigenes of the state.

Balogun said 30 out of the 317 returnees were from Oyo State and that the commission was partnering with other agencies so that the returnees would be re-orientated, integrated and be empowered.

He said that over 400 Nigerians still in South Africa had equally indicated intention to return home.

Balogun said that it was the responsibility of the commission to take care of every Nigerian anywhere they might be across the world.

He welcomed the returnees back home and urged them to see their return as a blessing, saying they were better of being in their fatherland and that there were better opportunities in the country.

Balogun urged every Nigerian to be a good ambassador and representative of the country wherever they travelled to.

Some of the returnees, Temilade Olakojo, Oluwaseun Okeleye and Bolatito Lawal, pleaded with the state government to assist them, saying they returned to Nigeria with nothing as they had lost everything in South Africa.

The trio pleaded with the state government to give them job or empower them so that they can live better again.

Olakojo, a graduate of History and International Studies, said she had a registered business in South Africa and was doing well before the xenophobic attack.

Okeleye said he narrowly escaped the attack, but all his means of livelihood had gone with the attack.

Lawal, who was attacked physically, said his being alive was a miracle, but he lost everything he had struggled to save in South Africa.

DAK/MAM/TA

Edited by Modupe Adeloye/Tajudeen Atitebi

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Xenophobic attacks embarrassing, condemnable, South African don

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Mr Mmatlou Kalaba, a Senior Researcher at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, has described the frequent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals by South Africans as embarrassing and condemnable.

Kalaba said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Thursday on the sidelines of the sixth edition of African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) held in Abuja.

The don tendered sincere apology on behalf of his fellow South African brothers and sisters.

“Our government has not been strong enough, in my view, in condemning, arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators and that is something which, not only embarrasses me, but makes me angry,’’ he said.

He said that his anger stemmed from the fact that those voted into power had refused to take concrete action against the illegal act

“Personally, I think until the perpetrators are arrested and people start spending time in jail, then we will see these kinds of things not happening at all.

“As an African, I often do not travel with much confidence and freedom because of what I know my fellow brothers and sisters are doing to other Africans in my country.

“Obviously, you do not expect people to welcome you when they know that in your country, foreigners are generally not welcomed,’’ Kalaba said.

He expressed concern that the acts were perpetrated by a few hoodlums and that severe measures ought to have been taken against them.

“I expect that harsh steps and measures be taken against them to serve as deterrent to those waiting to do the same.

“On this note, I humbly apologise on behalf of what my fellow South African brothers and sisters. It should not be allowed to continue happening.

“I, therefore, hope that government would take the steps it had indicated because we are really doing damage to ourselves, and not just foreigners,’’ he said.

He said that the South African government must remedy the situation by going round the continent apologising, with a promise to take action.

According to Kalaba South African businesses are spread all over the continent, stressing that good conduct and attitudes are expected of them from their clients.

“In a situation where foreign businesses have their origin in South Africa, much should be done to see to it that safety and good neighbourliness prevail.

“It is self-inflicting, as the reverse is the case and this is really bad and sad; hopefully, we will see the end of it,’’ he said.

Kalaba said that he had been a member of the African Association of Agricultural Economists for more than 12 years.

He said that he was at the summit to present papers on what was happening on the continent, with regards to agricultural developments, especially in the area of trade, his area of specialisation.

SET/IAA/WAS

Edited by Isaac Aregbesola and ‘Wale Sadeeq

 

 

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Features

Any hope of justice for victims of xenophobic attacks?

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Any hope of justice for victims of xenophobic attacks?

By Femi Ogunshola, Nigeria News Agency .

In the heat of the 2019 xenophobic attacks in South Africa, in which over 600 Nigerians voluntarily indicated interest to return home, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the   Nigerian government and other countries whose citizens were victims, should initiate actions against South Africa.

The former Nigerian leader said that the countries should come together and table the issue before the African Union, should the situation in South Africa persists.

Analysts agreed that South Africans viewed immigrants as burden on their economy, and also with erroneous impression that they were responsible for most crimes in South Africa.

Moved by the spate of attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa and their investments, Nigeria government sent special envoys to South Africa, to express the country’s sadness of the development.

As a way of assuaging the feelings of Nigeria, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, also sent special envoys to Nigeria and apologised over the xenophobic attacks.

But beyond the special envoys and the apology, what most Nigerians are demanding is justice for the victims.

Mr Omoriegbe Ogboro, Head of Legal Desk, Nigerian Union, South Africa, said most Nigerians are already coming together to institute legal action against the South Africa government for failing in its responsibility to protect Nigerians living in their country.

According to him, South Africa government should be held responsible for the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians living in their country, because the government failed to protect them and nationals of other African countries.

To him, the lawsuit will serve as deterrent to South Africans from further attacks because a warning signal would have been sent to the government and its citizens.

Ogboro said that the impact of the lawsuit against South Africa would ensure that when the government is paying for the xenophobic attacks, it will compel her to tighten up security in future to forestall further xenophobic attacks.

He decried the ingratitude of South Africa to Nigeria, stressing that Nigeria spent huge resources to ensure end of apartheid in South Africa.

Dr Kayode Ajulo, a human rights lawyer in his submission, noted that the xenophobic attacks in South Africa stem from the standpoint of misplaced anger, hatred on the part of South Africans towards other Africans and most especially Nigerians.

Ajulo regretted that South Africans failed to acquaint themselves with their not too long history of apartheid for which Nigeria played a key role in ending.

He said that the unexpected behaviour of South Africans that attacked Nigerians cannot be justified in the face of unprovoked attacks that Nigerians have been receiving in the hands of their South African counterparts.

Ajulo said that such attacks on citizens of other African countries were not reflective of the true spirit of Africanism.

He described the action as barbaric and capable of having a spill-over effect on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, already in force.

Ajulo also urged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), to immediately start legal action against South Africa.

This according to him is predicated on Nigeria’s ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which gave birth to the establishment of African Court on Human and Peoples Right which was signed on May 29, 2004.

He stated that the mandate of the African Court on Human and Peoples Right was to monitor respect for human rights on the African continent in line with the instruments.

“It is elementary principle of international law that a state is entitled to protect its subjects, when injured by acts contrary to international law committed by another state, from whom they have been unable to obtain diplomatic action or international judicial proceedings on behalf of its citizens.’’

Ajulo said that the Federal Government must toe the path of law and order to protect the rights of Nigerian citizens in South Africa affected by the xenophobic attacks in order to get justice for the gruesome violation of their fundamental rights.

According to him, the court is empowered to hear cases brought against African states for failure to respect human rights.

“ The court issues binding judgments in such cases and where violations are found, may award compensation and other remedies to victims,’’ he said.

Another legal practitioner, Mr Inibehe Effiong, regrettably that Nigeria was not among the nine countries in the continent that have ratified the declaration that permits non- governmental organisations and individuals to activate the jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.

This according to him means that NGOs and individuals cannot institute legal proceedings against the Republic of South Africa, but only Nigeria whose citizens were affected can do so.

He however called on the Attorney General of the Federation, to institute legal action against South African government in view of the mindless attacks against her citizens living in the country.

Effiong noted that since the government of South Africa has now publicly declared that no compensation will be paid to victims of xenophobia, the Nigerian government should seek redress on behalf of Nigerians citizens affected by the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.   (Features)

**(NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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