THE public can now report xenophobic threats or violence on Xenowatch, a platform that is an open source system for collecting information, visualization and interactive mapping that allows crowd sourcing of xenophobic-related incidents.
The platform is developed by the African Centre for Migration and Society working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Speaking at the launch, held at Diakonia, Jean Pierre Misago said people can use various channels when reporting incidents which include free sms, email, xenowatch website, xenowatch mobile App and whatsApp.
“The aim of Xenowatch is to track all forms of xenophobic threats and attacks on people and property across South Africa.”
“Xenophobia with different forms of manifestation continues to be a threat to lives and livelihoods to foreign nationals. It affects both locals and foreign nationals, reports are verified, anonymised and passed on to police and local authorities”
“One of the reasons why we started this initiative is that we felt that our analysis was not enough because we relied on media coverage and realized that these incidents also happen in areas were there is no media coverage,” said Misago.
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According to Misago, the objectives of Xenowatch is to monitor xenophobic threats and violence, as well as government responses. To notify police and civil society of threats, violence and displacement.
“Xenophobia in its self is not violent. It is a feeling, a global phenomenon that is not unique to South Africa. Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of others based on ethnic, national or racial background.”
“It is a form of discrimination that manifests itself in violent and non violent ways against people from all backgrounds,” he said.
The ‘charges’ against immigrants are typical of anti-immigrant sentiment globally: a 2010 survey by the Southern African Migration Programme found that 60% of South Africans believe immigrants “take jobs”, whilst 55% believe that they worsen crime.
According to research there were approximately two million immigrants recorded in the 2011 census, compared to 49.6 million South Africans.
The vast majority of immigrants are black African (71.7%), with 4.2% of Indian or Asian ethnicity, reflecting the sizable Pakistani and Bangladeshi population in the country.
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