South Africa's immigrants face xenophobic ire

November 19, 2010

Produced by Worldview

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(Getty Images/John Moore)
Undocumented immigrants, mostly from Zimbabwe, crowd the entrance to a refugee center in Johannesburg.

In May 2008, residents of Alexandra Township in Johannesburg attacked foreigners from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. The riots left two people dead and dozens of others injured. Following the attacks, South Africa considered a plan to send migrants back to their country of origin. It later backpedalled, but the problem hasn’t gone away. When South Africa hosted the World Cup this summer, many immigrants feared another wave of xenophobic violence would erupt. 

University of Chicago senior Kayla Higgins spent the summer and early fall in South Africa, as part of the University of Chicago’s human rights internship program. She tells us about her work on refugee issues with a group known as PASS-UP.