On World Refugee Day, the Black Sash calls on everyone in our communities, including the police, politicians and government officials to condemn and speak out against xenophobia. As the jubilant spirit of the Soccer World Cup brings the peoples of the world closer together, let us speak out against those who call our African brothers and sisters by the hurtful name Amakwerekwere. The Black Sash believes that ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. We challenge everyone to stand up against xenophobia by confronting ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity.
Intimidation and threats of violence against foreign nationals continue unabated in some pockets of our communities. The Black Sash wants to make it clear that such violence against individuals is wrong and unacceptable in a constitutional democracy. We call on our communities to initiate human rights based dialogue and to report any threats of violence to the Police emergency number – 10111.
Although we refer to our world as a "global village," it is a world sadly lacking in the sense of closeness toward neighbours which the word village implies. Around the country there are problems stemming from either a lack of respect for, or lack of acceptance of, the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings. “Let us remember that our Constitution is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa.” said Nkosikhulele Nyembezi, Advocacy Programme Manager. “The Constitution provides for the rights of all people living in our country and affirms democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom for all.”
The Black Sash also calls on our government, particularly the Departments of Home Affairs and Labour, to take urgent and decisive action to ensure that progressive policies are put in place to protect, promote and respect the rights of refugees and migrants. Government needs to speed up the promised legislative amendments on Refugees, Immigration, Economic Migration, South African Citizenship, and other related regulations so as to ensure a functional and fair framework for dealing with foreign nationals in South Africa. This legislation will complement South Africa’s important contribution to social and economic security of Africa citizens and the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the continent.
Our policies need to align with international protocols. They should take cognisance of our particular location in Africa, trends towards regional integration and the inevitability of immigration to South Africa. All foreign nationals residing in South Africa should speedily be issued with documents that ensure their access to basic human rights and promote their independence and ability to contribute within our society. We have recommended that an inter-governmental body dedicated to refugee-related matters be established in order to facilitate coordination between the different spheres and levels of government on the issue of migration.
On World Refugee Day, the Black Sash stands in solidarity with all those affected by the xenophobic attacks and remains committed along with all those working to make human rights real in South Africa. Finally, the Black Sash calls on everyone to ensure that the beautiful game of soccer unites us; as people who are shaped by cultural diversity, different languages, races, and nationalities. We have proven that we are more than capable of hosting this World Cup; let us now send out a strong message to all refugees and migrants that we are indeed a caring host nation.
For more information and interview requests, please contact:
Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager
Cell: 082-429 4719
Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager
Black Sash Provincial Director