International Organization for Migration calls for collective interventions to fight violence against migrants

Photo credit: Mike Holmes

Pretoria, 14 April 2015 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is deeply concerned over the resurgence of attacks against migrants that have been going on and continue to spread throughout Durban and other parts of South Africa for the past two weeks. IOM calls for urgent collective interventions by the government, media, and the civil society in preventing violence against migrants in the country.

IOM strongly condemns the violence and pleads with civil society organizations to work with the law enforcement authorities by reporting cases of violence and further planned attacks. IOM welcomes the deployment of additional police officers to contain the violence, as already more than 2000 migrants have had to flee their homes. However, a mere reactive approach will not suffice; structural measures will have to be taken to prevent future flare-ups.

Mr. Richard Ots, Chief of Mission for IOM South Africa says that xenophobia and violence against migrants can only be successfully tackled with the involvement of the host communities as well as the migrant communities, in order to understand the root causes of the violence and the intolerance.

“The recent violence is not a problem for the government alone, but for South Africa as a whole; everyone has a critical role to play to put a stop to this. We welcome the government’s initial interventions in addressing the situation in Durban and we further avail our professional expertise in assisting the government,” says Mr. Richard Ots.

He further says that “the media community also needs to examine its role in shaping the public’s perception of migrants.”

“Media has an important role to play based on the tremendous amount of influence they have in shaping public perception. By selectively reporting about violence and the negative perceptions of migration, but failing to highlight the many positive contributions that migrants bring, media organizations unfortunately reinforce the popular association between violence and migration. The face of migration needs to change completely and the media have the power to lead on this transformation. We strongly invite the media to partner with us in telling the true story of migration in this country,” Mr. Ots concludes.


For further information, please contact Media and Communications Focal Person – Ntokozo Mahlangu at +2712 423 9613/076 532 8295 email: