Roar Africa

Exploring Africa Since 1688

Friday, May 23, 2008

Update: Xenophobic attacks in South Africa

You have probably heard of the terrible attacks against refugees and immigrants from other African nations residing here in South Africa. The most recent attacks started in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra and spread to other low income neighborhoods and informal settlements. They have caused a number of deaths and the displacement of thousands of people.

The actions have been condemned locally and abroad. Although the government was criticized for acting slowly initially there has been significant progress. On May 21st President Thabo Mbeki authorised the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to provide the South African Police Service (SAPS) with the logistical support it needs to stabilise the situation. The situation is being brought under control and 400 arrests have been made.

If you are considering a visit to South Africa be aware that the problems were localized. You will not be in any of these areas on a Roar Africa trip. The South African Tourism Board is re-assuring all potential foreign visitors that it is safe to visit South Africa and that the incidents of attacks are contained in very small areas of our beautiful country.

The US Embassy issued a travel alert for South Africa on May 21st. It is a fair account of the situation. It does not advise against traveling to South Africa, but warns American citizens to be aware of the possible dangers which are confined to isolated locations and informal settlements. You can find it here.

The South African Embassy calls on concerned and interested parties to visit their website at where you will find further information on this matter and the text of President Mbeki’s speech on May 21st.

HOW TO HELP: We’d like to turn your attention to what you do not see in the headlines- The true spirit of South Africans and friends around the world who are helping the victims with donations of hard work, goods, food, blankets, and money. If you would like to help there are a number of options. Please visit United for Africa (“How to help” and “Where to Donate” pages).

Our thoughts are with all those affected by the violence.

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