Malawi, Nigeria and Kenya are calling for the evacuation of their nationals from South Africa amid continuing xenophobic attacks and violence in the coastal city of Durban, media reports said. At least five non-South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, have been killed in Durban since last week, and the violence has so far displaced about 5,000 foreigners in the eastern port city. Officials fear the attacks could escalate.
The Malawian government announced Thursday it would evacuate its nationals from South Africa, Agence France-Presse reported. Hundreds of Malawians are living in refugee camps in Durban after fleeing the xenophobic violence, leaving their homes and belongings behind, including their passports. “The situation is really tense as about 360 Malawians are stranded in South Africa following xenophobic attacks there,” Malawi’s Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said Thursday.
A Nigerian lawmaker called for the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa on Thursday within 24 hours if the attacks on foreigners persist, the Premium Times reported. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, the foreign affairs committee chairman of the Nigerian House of Representatives, said the government must not wait until its nationals are killed.
“The federal government of Nigeria should rise up to the occasion by having contingency plans to evacuate Nigerians within 24 hours to avoid us losing our citizens to these attacks,” Ukeje said Thursday. “Unfortunately, there is no serious condemnation from South Africa government on these attacks, hence the need for the Nigerian government to be proactive and rescue her citizens as soon as possible.”
The Kenyan government said Thursday it too was planning to evacuate its citizens living in South Africa, following the xenophobic attacks. Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said no Kenyans have been killed in the attacks so far, Nation FM in Nairobi reported. “We don’t have any direct casualties. We have planned for an evacuation, but some of the Kenyans have actually voluntarily moved to a camp, but not in large numbers, but that could increase,” Mohamed said Thursday. “This is not the first time it has happened. This is the second time. We have always managed to provide protection.”
The attacks in Durban have targeted migrants from other African countries, whom impoverished locals have accused of taking away their jobs and businesses. Violence against foreigners is not unprecedented in South Africa. At least 62 people were killed in xenophobic attacks on migrants that broke out in 2008, according to BBC News.
South African President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence Thursday and said security officials were monitoring the situation, the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa reported. “We appeal for calm, an end to the violence and restraint. Criminal elements should not be allowed to take advantage of the concerns of citizens to sow mayhem and destruction. Any problems or issues of concern to South African citizens must be resolved peacefully through dialogue,” Zuma said Thursday. “The police have been directed to work around the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence.”