‘Xenophobia’ is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.
Xenophobia has become one of the most disturbing social cankers that the world keeps battling with. Seeing it as a problem but not understanding the severity of it, is what has once again led us to this situation. The situation where foreigners are losing their lives and properties in South Africa. In recent years, South Africa, in particular, has experienced a series of xenophobic attacks. There have been numerous similar cases of these attacks in various countries. Finland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Nigeria and many other countries have experienced this on various scales. From singular attacks like the attack on a Kurdish-Iranian refugee in Croydon, South London in 2017 to mass attacks like what has been happening in South Africa over the years leading to loss of many lives. Undoubtedly, xenophobia is gradually becoming a global menace.
A toxic mix of hate and ignorance propels citizens to antagonise foreigners they find in their mix. And this will eventually lead to retaliation from countries whose citizens become victims. South African companies like MTN and Shoprite in Nigeria faced the vengeance of angry Nigerians after the recent attacks on their compatriots in south Africa which led to the death of 10 people. And close to 600 Nigerians have been repatriated from South Africa. Most of these Nigerians could be merchants whose businesses impacts on the economy. Zambia likewise withdrew from a friendly match scheduled to go off with the Bafana-Bafana. The president of the United States, Donald Trump, even threatened withdrawal of American investments in South Africa as a result of these recent attacks.
There are generally various adverse effects of xenophobic attacks. Not just on immigrants but also on citizens, nations and in fact the general socio-economic growth of the world.
Xenophobic attacks are well known for tearing apart the unity fibre in a country or even a continent. In a situation where citizens show aggression and violence towards foreigners and nothing is done to curb it, the very foundations of our humanity are shaken, disrupting peace and unity and our very security as humans.
The solutions to xenophobic attacks come in shapes as the issue in its self has various ‘faces’ and phases.
Education happens to be a very effective measure to curb the increased spate of xenophobic attacks. This is true to the extent that many people do not know what it is like to have a feel of other people and their culture and so tend to have fear unnecessarily. Like it was earlier stated, ignorance and lack of understanding can be a very dangerous mix. It is crucial that xenophobes are educated on why it’s unnecessary to fear and hate something just because of its foreign. There is also the need to tolerate and create a conducive living and working atmosphere for both foreigners and citizens since in the long run, even citizens are affected too.
Countries facing the threat of xenophobic attacks should establish laws that will make perpetrators of hideous and dehumanizing acts like, attacking, lynching, burning foreigners alive and causing damage to properties, feel how uncomfortable punishment is.
Punishment for the criminals can go a long way in serving as a deterrent to others who harbour similar motives.
Also, the governments of various countries should work to ensure a flourishing economy that will not render their citizens helpless and frustrated in their quest for a better life. It is an undeniable fact that unemployment is one of the major reasons why people migrate to other countries.
Using South Africa as an example, between 2010 and 2019, immigrants increase from two million to four million. And as if they were not satisfied the majority of them(immigrants) ventured into ‘fraud scamming’ creating problems for the host country. Evidently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed the indictment of about 80 Nigerians in fraud scam in South Africa.
And this has gone a long way in creating immense enmity towards immigrants by South Africans.
None of this would have happened if visionary leaders in various countries were to put in place measures to curtail unemployment. Take decisive steps to improve on all aspects of the life of citizens, socially and economically.
Lastly, there should be a treaty signed by countries diseased of xenophobia and countries whose citizens have fallen victims to xenophobic attacks, to strengthen their bond by regulating the actions of their respective people.
A stronger treaty should be signed unlike the Immigrants Regulation Act of 1913 by South Africa which even incited its citizens more to carry out xenophobic attacks with severity.
It stands to be indisputable that, regardless of the state of the economy in any country, people will still migrate. And if not for anything else, look to what has gone on recently in South Africa and the issues which arose after, and destroy any form of hatred, jealousy and anger you may have towards any foreigner. Remember we may be of different races, different cultures and speak different languages but we will always be one people.