Friends of the Earth Africa condemns xenophobic attacks in South Africa

.Drums support for victims
By Valentine Amanze

Friends of the Earth Africa has condemned the the violent attacks on Nigerians, Malians, Ghanaians and other African nationals in South Africa.
If also faulted the South African government for not protecting other nationals in the country against the xenophobic attacks, while appealing to the African Union to take a drastic measure against reoccurance.
It wondered why the systematic killing of black foregners in South Africa, which began in 2008, continued till 2019.
The group made its position known in a statement signed by Justice Ambiental / Friends of the Earth Mozambique;
Les Amis de la Terre-Togo / Friends of the Earth Togo;
Friends of the Earth Ghana;
Sustainable Development Institute / Friends of the Earth Liberia;
National Association of Professional Environmentalists / Friends of the Earth Uganda;
Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement / Friends of the Earth Cameroon;
Environmental Right Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria;
Groundwork / Friends of the Earth South Africa;
Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team / Friends of the Earth Tanzania; and GUAMINA / Friends of the Earth Mali.
The group lamented: “In 2008, there was a wave of attacks across the country against refugees and migrants - more than 60 people were reported to have been killed and thousands displaced.
“In 2015, there were outbreaks of violence against non-South Africans, mostly in the cities of Durban and Johannesburg, which also left many non-South Africans dead and others injured and a lot of property lost and damaged. Today, we see the same thing happening to our fellow Africans, which is very demeaning and devastating.”
The group however disclosed that it canceled its participation in two conferences in Cape Town, “Financing the Future” and “Financing China on Coal and Fossil Fuels ”, which held September 9, 2019, in addition to other events and meetings in South Africa because of the killings, while pointing out that both events
were equally important and would likely have far reaching impacts on Africa.
It wondered why most African governments have not spoken out or taken a public stand on this whole situation, stressing, “This apathy for the suffering of their own people has long appalled us.”
The group said that the condemnation of acts of xenophobia by the President of the African Union was insufficient.
“We call on all Heads of State to condemn this crime and take action to stop these horrible attacks in the future.
“We acknowledge African governments who boycotted The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town over recent violent protests and attacks on foreign nationals. We commend the Presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Nigeria and Rwanda, who refused to attend the event to show their solidarity and stand with African nations of those killed,” it stated.
Besides, the group advised the Africa Union to stop the xenophobic attacks in South Africa and everywhere in Africa.
Anabela Lemos, the director of Environmental Justice, however, appealed to all Africans not to respond to violence with more violence, stressing, “We must respond with peace, justice and dialogue, and only then can we stop this violence. This should be a time to come together as human beings, as Africans, and show South Africans and the world that it is not with violence that the future of a country or a continent is built.”
Other members of the group spoke include:
Kwami Kpondzo (Friends of the Earth Africa Human Rights Defenders focal person), who called upon all Africa citizens to respect human dignity and human rights. “We are all suffering from climate change effects already. We will not accept any forms of violence anywhere in Africa. It is time to think together and preserve peace in Africa. No more violence against women!”
Kureeba David (Regional Facilitator Friends of the Earth Africa) condemned xenophobic acts of violence, stressing, “It’s demeaning for Africans to start fighting, killing one another and destroying property, when climate change and other challenges are hitting us hard.”
Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Deputy Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria) said: "The disturbing xenophobic attacks do not show the accommodation and warmth that Africans are known for. They are disheartening and totally unacceptable. We rightfully demand that the South African government goes beyond sloganeering and genuinely reins in on the attacks to allow the harmony Africans are known for to continue.
“We believe that structural inequities need systematic transformation to preserve peace. We urge the government of South Africa to take immediate action in this regard.
“We call on South African Civil Society to press and hold its government accountable for what is happening, and to demand an end to these persecutions and violence, as we are aware that the majority of South Africans also condemn these criminal actions.
“We call on the South African Government to take serious and necessary measures to address this situation and to stop this wave of violence with the utmost urgency, and to be guided by the necessary short, medium- and long-term changes to address the serious situation of inequality, unemployment and poverty in the country.
“We call on African governments to take the necessary measures to protect and defend their citizens who are still in South Africa, and to demand that the South African government stop these criminal acts against its citizens and Africans living in South Africa.”

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