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(Lagos, September 5, 2019) Civil Society actors across Africa have expressed deep concern and condemned the ongoing violence against African foreign nationals in South Africa.
This comes in the wake of recent xenophobic attacks reportedly perpetrated by South African citizens against other African foreign nationals who reside and own businesses in the country’s largest city, Johannesburg. The recent attacks which allegedly began between September 1 and 2, 2019 have been described as inhumane acts of violence in which lives and properties of many African foreigners, resident in South Africa have been lost.
In a statement signed by 10 civil society organisations and coalitions from across Africa, the actors led by the Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Oyebisi B. Oluseyi, describe the attacks as criminal, as they contravene the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, stating; “…these attacks regress our common economic and development agenda as Africans as enshrined in Agenda 2063 and stands in the way of attaining the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) recently put in place by our governments to ensure that as citizens of mother Africa, we become prosperous.” They also noted that the xenophobic attacks which have been prevalent over the years challenge the continent’s common heritage and value systems.
In commending the efforts of many global civil society organisations who openly condemned the attacks, they commiserated with victims of the attack while calling on Governments of Nigeria and South Africa as well as the African Union to “develop a comprehensive plan to address this issue and use diplomatic routes to launch a joint-national campaign against crime and xenophobia by tapping into the expertise of civil society and the private sector in these regards” Oyebisi reiterated the commitment of civil society organisations to using their organisational platforms in raising awareness on the need for Africans to remain united especially in the context of Ubuntu.
A final call was also made to the media, leaders of thought, clergy, public servants, politicians, business and civil society in and out of South Africa to use their platforms in educating and sensitizing citizens on the ills of xenophobia and its implications for unity and social cohesion of Africans.
See full statement below
Joint statement made by African civil society leaders on the xenophobic attacks on African foreign nationals in South Africa.
5 September 2019
We the undersigned leaders of civil society across the African continent are deeply concerned about the ongoing xenophobic attacks on African foreign nationals residing in South Africa. We deeply regret these unfortunate incidents that have claimed the lives and properties of our African brothers and sisters and led to the destruction of their properties and businesses.
We are worried that these attacks regress our common economic and development agenda as Africans as enshrined in Agenda 2063 and stands in the way of attaining the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) recently put in place by our governments to ensure that as citizens of mother Africa we become prosperous. More than this, the spate of violence undermines our common heritage and value systems as the African people. These actions negate the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, are inhumane and undermine progress that have been made to advance human rights across the continent.
We condemn in its entirety these barbaric acts and call on the government of Nigeria and South Africa, and the African Union to take decisive steps and develop a comprehensive plan of action to address this issue while encouraging our brothers and sisters affected by these attacks to remain calm and continue to remain safe.
We welcome the steps already taken by some governments, including the South African and Nigerian Government and further encourage the use of diplomatic routes and launching of a joint-national campaign against crime and xenophobia by tapping into the expertise of civil society and the private sector in these regards.
We further commend the calls of our civil society colleagues globally, and particularly in Africa, who openly condemn these attacks. We encourage them to work with the government and the good people of South Africa in developing plans and actions capable of bringing these attacks to a halt.
We are convinced that those who perpetrate these heinous acts do not reflect the values that South Africans cherish and uphold, hence we call on leaders of thought, clergy, public servants, politicians, business and civil society in and out of South Africa to speak up against these attacks; which no doubt could reverse gains already being made on attaining the sustainable development goals across the continent.
In order to bring an end to these acts and ensure they don’t recur, law enforcement agencies should act in a timely manner and bring the perpetrators to justice.
We call on the media as an integral part of the civil society community to use their platforms in educating and sensitizing citizens on the ills of xenophobia and its implications for unity and social cohesion of Africans.
As we continue to monitor the situation and follow up on government interventions to address this crisis, we commit as civil society to using our organisational platforms in raising awareness on the need for us as Africans to become more accommodating and to see each other as one within the context of Ubuntu- I am because you are.
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