Migration, Refugees, and Racism in South Africa

Jeff Handmaker, Jennifer Parsley

Abstract


The paper looks at South Africa’s complex history and policies of racism, social separation and control and the impact that this has had on the nature of migration and refugee policy. The paper argues that this legacy has resulted in policy and implementation that is highly racialized, coupled with a society expressing growing levels of xenophobia. Some causes and manifestations of xenophobia in South Africa are explored. It further examines how actions of police and civil servants can mirror the sentiments of the general public, further disadvantaging refugees and migrants. The outcomes of the WCAR are discussed with acknowledgment of the positive gains made for refugees and asylum seekers. The implications for implementation are debated in light of the attacks on the USA. In conclusion, a number of recommendations are made including the need for ongoing public awareness strategies, the value of the WCAR Declarations as lobbying tools, a pragmatic and democratic policy process and the need to highlight development concerns in approaches to address these issues.

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