With funding from Foundation for Human Rights, ACTION Support Centre is currently undertaking a Roll Back Xenophobia Program in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal which is centered on civic education to teach civic responsibility, which is a way to promote and enlighten responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles. The goal of the program is to enable and facilitate the realization of socio-economic rights for vulnerable and marginalized groups through agency, the strengthening of civil society organizations and the strengthening of sector coordination in the social justice sector.
The ASC is conducting community-based human rights awareness activities that promote anti-xenophobia attitudes in communities affected by xenophobia as well as those communities celebrating being xenophobia-free. With the use of the existing ASC Training Manual working with Conflict and additional resources from the Lawyers for Human Rights a series of workshops has been organized in Durban and youths drawn from KwaMashu, Isipingo and UMlazi have participated in the training. Amongst other things, this includes community-based cultural and sporting events that have very clear human rights based anti-xenophobia messaging, education activities, advocacy, lobbying, community radio programs.
From analyzing and discussing rights, justice and xenophobia issues strong components of thought leadership and township entrepreneurship were discussed. Linking legal experts and refugee and migrant communities is beginning to take shape and in support of the National Plan of Action to combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance 2016-2021. Several issues emerged through analysis on xenophobia including racism proximate causes, issues and effects. The platforms opened and deepened understanding of issues, while conflict mapping assisted in mapping community stakeholders, clarifying relationships and finding partners to work with when addressing community challenges.
It is at these sessions that participants revealed the notions on how xenophobia in South Africa manifest itself in a number of ways, ranging from derogatory name-calling to harassment and physical attacks. As these incidents show, African foreigners in particular are blamed for South Africa’s persistent social and economic problems: the high crime rate; the spread of HIV/AIDS; and the lack of jobs. Attackers make no distinction between legal and illegal migrants. For refugees fleeing social strife and warfare in their home country, xenophobic incidents are of particular concern. The sessions addressed some of the rights, justice and litigation gaps that currently exist when addressing issues of xenophobia. It is envisaged that refugee and migrant communities’ will work together with local communities in the pursuit of peace, justice, development, and social harmony.
As the project is ongoing it is the hope of ASC that it undertakes practical measures which must include an immediate end to the violence; addressing impunity; non-violent responses to dealing with conflict; addressing the displacement of the victims of xenophobia; establishing a rapid response mechanism as well as integrating early warning detection signals, provide ongoing monitoring and reporting of xenophobic attacks including hotspots as well as developing early warning mechanisms and rapid response strategies.