Nigeria has recalled its ambassador in Pretoria for consultations over recent attacks against foreign migrant workers in a move the South African government called "regretable."
President Jacob Zuma insists his country is not against foreigners, saying that his government is taking the matter seriously and is working on a long-term plan to deal with this issue.
But what are the root causes of xenophobia in South Africa? And is the government doing enough to deal with it?
Presenter: Jane Dutton
Simon Allison - Africa editor for Daily Maverick and a consultant for the Institute of Security Studies
Andrew Asamoah - Senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies
Eusebius McKaiser - Political analyst and social commentator
The post How will anti-migrant attacks affect S Africa’s future? appeared first on African Media Agency.
Johannesburg, South Africa - Hoisting banners and singing songs of peace, thousands of South Africans have marched through the streets of Johannesburg to show their support for foreign nationals after a spate of anti-immigrant violence across the country in recent weeks.
A procession of people spanning five kilometres marched through the city in the biggest display of solidarity with foreign nationals since the violence began on March 30, in Durban. At least eight people have been killed and thousands of others displaced since then.
Organisers said their aim was to bring together as many people as possible and denounce xenophobia.
"We wanted to show Africa and to show South Africa that we reject xenophobia, that we disassociate ourselves from violence against foreign people and that we stand for social justice and all people's dignity," Mark Heywood, the executive director of Section 27, an NGO, said.
"I think we've seen a beautiful demonstration through some of the poorest parts of Johannesburg, where many migrant people live and I've seen on the faces of migrant people, both on the march, and on the sides of the street, some reassurance that South Africa is not something that is going to murder them and hurt them," said Heywood.
The march started at the Pieter Roos Park in Hillbrow, a gritty inner-city precinct, known as a hub for Nigerian immigrants in Johannesburg, and later proceeded to an area in the city centre known as Little Ethiopia, before concluding in Newtown.
'Our blood is one'
One protester told Al Jazeera that she had come to show her support because the violence had directly affected her.
"I am here at this march because I'm a South African but I'm living among Malawian, Zimbabweans and Mozambicans," said Salma Mazibuko.
"These are my sisters and I like them. Our blood is one."
Gitacho Abolu, another protester, said he had joined the march to stand with others against xenophobia.
"My Ethiopian brothers have been injured in Durban, and another one has died. We sent his body back to Ethiopia a few days ago," Abolu said.
South Africa's reputation has taken a beating internationally following the feverish violence, with a string of African countries, including Malawi, Zimbabwe and Nigeria calling on authorities to act decisively.
On Tuesday, the South African army was deployed to "troubled spots" in areas around Johannesburg, and the KwaZulu-Natal province, in a bid to quell further violence.
Many South Africans, however, have criticised the deployment of the army as a public relations stunt geared to protect the interests of South African businesses across the continent.
Others have also expressed their concerns about the presence of soldiers in civilian areas, but some have welcomed the deployment, as proof of the government's commitment to quell the violence.
Tensions across the country remain high as immigrants are said to be living in constant fear for their lives.
"So today was just a show of solidarity. The hard work has to be done tomorrow, and the day after, and the months after to make sure that this never happens again," Heywood said.
The government has pledged to defeat the violence, and secure the lives of foreign nationals living and working in South Africans.
But there is still very little detail of how Jacob Zuma's administration plans to tackle the root of the problem, seen as gross inequality, unemployment and poor governance.
In Durban, NGOs, including South African Gift of the Givers and Doctors without Borders (MSF) said they were dealing with many cases of trauma in the camps set up for displaced foreigners across the city.
But in Johannesburg, as thousands of people marched, buoyed by cheering onlookers, the tension, and uncertainty that have marred recent weeks, appeared to fade into chants for peace and unity among Africans.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura, speaking after the march in Mary Fitzgerald Square, said his administration would now incorporate a department devoted to the affairs of immigrants living in the province.
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European leaders meet on Thursday in Brussels to discuss emergency measures to protect thousands of desperate migrants making treacherous sea journeys to escape war and poverty back home.
EU politicians have been scrambling for solutions in the wake of what has been described as the worst ever migrant disaster in the Mediterranean Sea, after about 800 people died on Saturday off of Libya when a people-smuggling boat capsized.
Italy's proposal to introduce "humanitarian channels" for refugees from war-torn nations could be the first step in saving lives, some officials say. But NGOs working on the ground say they fear the proposal will fail to adequately tackle the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Italy is expected to ask for greater cooperation among European states to resettle refugees and open humanitarian channels at Thursday's emergency summit in Brussels.
These would provide a legal route into Europe for those fleeing conflict-ridden countries, including Syria and Somalia.
"I think that in certain countries where there is a clear cut case of war, a humanitarian channel can be created," Italian MP Khalid Chaouki told Al Jazeera.
In 2013, Chaouki locked himself inside a detention centre in Sicily to highlight the plight faced by migrants staying there.
"I am confident that the plan can be implemented in the near future, as there are already some European countries, such as Germany, that are trying out some models of this," said Chaouki.
Italy is also expected to ask for greater cooperation among European states in resettling refugees, and ask for the EU to review its role in responding to issues in the Mediterranean Sea.
"I think the first key political result will be to convince EU leaders there is a common border for us all," said Chaouki.
Among other key issues being discussed is building a Europe wide search-and-rescue mission.
Migrant rights groups working on the ground say they want to see a clear and immediate political solution - above all developing a Europe-wide policy towards migration not focused exclusively on the continent's security.
"It's early days but I hope this meeting will be a step in the right direction," Chaouki said.
Meanwhile flows of people fleeing war, persecution, and economic pain continue to embark on the deadly journey towards Europe.
"What we need is a European search-and-rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea. Anything short of that will fail to avoid a new tragedy," said Giovanna di Benedetto from the NGO Save the Children.
Over the past month di Benedetto has witnessed the arrival of thousands of people, almost on a daily basis, and heard accounts of increasing violence in Libya and increasingly deadly journeys.
She was among a small group of NGO workers who on Monday provided assistance to the 27 survivors from the smuggler's shipwreck on Saturday.
Among them were four unaccompanied minors from Somalia and Bangladesh. Her team went to the refugee centre in the Sicilian town of Mascalucia where the four boys are staying.
They met Said, a 16-year old Somali boy whose journey to Italy lasted more than a year, di Benedetto told Al Jazeera.
Last summer his family handed him over to a Sudanese human trafficker in the hope he would reach his two aunts in Oslo.
On his arrival to Libya, Said, was kidnapped by criminal gangs who held him hostage for nine months inside a crammed house with hundreds of other migrants. During his stay he saw dozens of people die from malnourishment, Said recounted.
When his family was finally able to pay his ransom he headed to Tripoli, where on the night of April 18 he boarded the ill-fated ship. He said he was beaten several times as smugglers sought to cram the vessel with migrants to maximise their profit.
"Initially traffickers attempted to pack 1,200 people on an old fisherman boat, but stopped at 800 as they realised that they could not physically push people any closer together," said Di Benedetto.
When the ship capsized, Said fainted and woke up in Italy bruised but alive. Of the other 60 unaccompanied minors who left the coast of Libya with Said, only four made it to European shores.
Said said he now wants to continue his journey to reach his family in Norway, but doesn't want to put his life in the hands of traffickers again, di Benedetto recounted.
Refugees from Eritrea are the second-largest group of migrants arriving to Europe, according to a 2014 UNHCR report. Among their reasons for fleeing is the country's dictatorship and economic strife.
Amin, who asked his full name not be used fearing political persecution of his family back home, arrived at the Sicilian harbour of Siracusa two weeks ago. He fled Eritrea to avoid the army, in which he was forced to serve for 14 years on a wage of $29 per month.
For three months he travelled through Somalia, Sudan and finally to Libya, from where he also set off to Italy.
He travelled for three days on a fishing boat crammed with other 300 people without food, water, or lifejackets. "They beat us when we ask for food, even with electric sticks," he told Al Jazeera.
Giulia Chiarenza, a cultural mediator from the NGO Emergency, has been providing medical assistance to Amin and other migrants arriving at the Umberto Primo refugee centre in Siracusa.
"Many come here with burns on their backs from the engines of the boat, against which they are forced to sit as there is no other space," said Chiarenza.
"Why should these people have to die, be tortured, just to obtain what is fundamentally their right?" said Chiarenza.
Amin's boat shipwrecked off the Italian coast after the engine caught fire. "I was sure we were going to die," he said.
After several hours of distress, Amin and other passengers were rescued by an Italian Coat Guard ship.
Amin's journey cost him $4,500 and nearly his life. But throughout the interview, he continuously stressed how lucky he feels to now be in Italy.
As World Malaria Day approaches, the World Health Organization (WHO) is busy advocating for malaria control and elimination, particularly in the hardest hit continent of Africa.
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, transmitted through bites from infected mosquitos and is an endemic, plaguing more than 20 countries in Africa.
"In 2013, 20 of the 22 countries accounting for 90 percent of the estimated global cases of malaria were from Africa," the WHO Africa's regional director Dr Mathidiso Moeti told Al Jazeera.
World Malaria Day on April 25 was instituted by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session in May 2007 to recognise the global effort to provide effective malaria control.
It endeavours to educate people in affected regions about the disease's spread, and for nations to learn from common experiences while providing research and international partnership to combat the disease.
According to the WHO, 90 percent of the estimated 627,000 global malaria deaths occurred in Africa in 2012.
Malaria has a devastating socioeconomic impact on African countries causing poverty because of absenteeism from work and school, thereby rendering children unequipped for promising careers.
Raïssa Maïga from the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose 11-month-old daughter contracted malaria, explained the economic woes of the disease.
"Malaria is affecting me because I'm currently at the hospital with my daughter when I need to be working in the market. I'm a shopkeeper and I can't sell anything, and I'm losing money as I need to stay here with her until she is well," Maïga told Al Jazeera.
Maïga comes from the Bacongo district of Brazzaville in Congo and says her daughter contracted the disease from mosquito bites. She says she now hopes the government will provide free mosquito nets and a clean place to sleep.
Dr Moeti, while acknowledging African governments are "doing their best given competing priorities", says a lot more can be done to prevent and eliminate malaria.
"Governments can do more ... by increasing domestic investment in malaria control - the current average domestic investment in Africa is about $4 per person at risk. This needs to rise to at least $10 per person," she said.
Every year, 3.2 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria. This leads to about 198 million malaria incidents and an estimated 584,000 deaths. Those living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to the disease.
Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 to 15 days after the mosquito bite. If timely treatment is not provided, it rapidly becomes life-threatening because it disrupts the blood supply to vital organs.
The main interventions for controlling the spread of malaria include the prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies; use of insecticidal nets by people at risk; and indoor residual spraying with insecticide to control the vector mosquitoes.
The Roll Back Malaria Partnership - which comprises of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, non-governmental organisations, and research institutions - is also planning programmes to mark World Malaria Day.
The partnership will convene with UN ambassadors, EU parliamentarians, officials from the Islamic Development Bank and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and communities in the Elimination Eight (E8) countries, to commemorate World Malaria Day 2015, in New York, Brussels, Geneva, Jeddah, and Livingstone, Zambia.
Their mission is to focus on the need for increased financing, tackling drug and insecticide resistance, increasing investment in elimination efforts, improving protection for pregnant women, and prioritising malaria prevention in a new era of development.
Meanwhile, WHO is working on advocating malaria control and elimination throughout the world with a special focus on Africa.
"The WHO regional office for Africa works through its 47 country offices to advance the malaria control and elimination agenda through supporting advocacy events like media briefing, publication of news briefs, statements and articles in newspapers and electronic media, and support to commemoration events at select centres within countries," Moeti told Al Jazeera in an email.
However, ordinary people such as Maïga are looking for only simple solutions to this life threatening disease such as mosquito nets. Maïga says she believes she will see a malaria-free Congo in her lifetime.
"Yes, I would really like to see that. I think it can be done if we all work together with nurses and doctors."
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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has warned that, based on current figures, the migrant death toll on the Mediterranean this year could top 30,000.
The IOM said late on Tuesday that it believed 1,727 migrants have died trying to make the journey to Europe from North Africa so far this year, compared to just 56 at the same time last year.
"IOM now fears that the 2014 total of 3,279 migrant deaths may be surpassed this year in a matter of weeks," the group said in a statement.
"We just want to make sure people understand how much more ... rapid these deaths have been coming this year," IOM spokesman Joel Millman said earlier on Tuesday.
The IOM's warning came as the UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, said it believed that an incident over the weekend was the deadliest on record.
"Only 28 people are known to have survived the shipwreck," UNHCR spokesman Arian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.
"From available information and the various accounts we've had, UNHCR now believes the number of fatalities to have been over 800, making this the deadliest incident in the Mediterranean we have ever recorded," he added.
Italian prosecutors charged the Tunisian captain of the overcrowded migrant boat that sunk off the Libyan coast with multiple manslaughter.
The captain of the vessel and a Syrian, allegedly a member of the ship's crew, were taken from the group of 27 survivors who arrived in the Sicilian port of Catania on Monday evening.
Italian ships have rescued well over 10,000 people over the past two weeks, an unprecedented number for such a short period, authorities say.
A 10-point plan to stop the deaths on the Mediterranean, presented by the European Commission on Monday, is expected to be discussed at an extraordinary summit of EU leaders on Thursday.
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