YOUTH SECTOR RESPONSE TO XENOPHOBIA

Issued by the National Youth Commission, 3 June 2008


The South African youth sector is deeply concerned about the perpetual xenophobic related incidents against foreign nationals including women and children. The shock of this intolerance of one by another and the outburst of xenophobia has become breaking news all over the world. Equally of concern has been the irresponsible actions displayed by some of our young people, being at the forefront of this unjustified hatred and intolerance towards other African nationals.

On Wednesday, 28 May 2008, the National Youth Commission convened a youth sector forum where a number of youth institutions came together to devise means of interventions to this crisis. In attendance was the Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF), the Youth Desk in the Presidency, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Home Affairs, Social Development and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working with refugees.

In light of the nature of this violence and its consequences, the forum noted the need to develop immediate and long term interventions. To this end, a task team composed of youth leaders was established and will be visiting affected communities next week to understand the severity of the problem on the ground. While acknowledging and appreciating the condemnation of such violence by high-ranking officials in our government, the youth sector further resolved to initiate dialogues in the affected communities to expedite the process of re-integration and conciliation. These dialogues will be conversations based as opposed to speech delivery.

The youth sector undertakes to work closely with the South African Human Rights Commission, Commission on Gender Equality, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other relevant bodies in these interventions. It is calling for the review of the existing migration policies of the country.
Key to the resolutions of this forum is the role of young people in the re-integration of the displaced families back to their communities:

The National Youth Service Programme has been mandated with immediate effect to accelerate the mobilisation of young people to assist in providing relief and rebuilding communities affected by xenophobic related attacks. As a vibrant resource of the nation, we call on young people to heed the call to put "all hands on deck" towards the restoration of the dignity and basic human rights of the affected communities.

While noting that some of the underlying challenges of unemployment, poverty, lack of service delivery are genuine, the Youth Forum believes that these ought to be raised genuinely in proper fora. Violence against humanity can never be justified.

The forum will host another meeting this week which will be broadened to include other youth stakeholders including political youth formations to strengthen its reach and a number of June month's activities and platforms will be utilized to address this crisis.