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President Jacob Zuma Outraged at Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

Published on Thursday 17th December 2009 President Jacob Zuma Outraged at Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

President Jacob Zuma has used South Africa's Day of Reconciliation to denounce attacks on migrants from elsewhere in Africa who are living in the country.

"We are outraged by the reports of ill-treatment of foreign nationals in some parts of the country," Zuma told a celebration in Tshwane, the capital.

"Such attacks go against the spirit and letter of our Constitution and our track record of respecting human rights and promoting dignity."

He was speaking after continuing xenophobic attacks in which migrants - particularly Zimbabwean and Somali refugees - have been chased out of the poor communities in which they live.

South Africans struggling to make a living claim migrant workers take their jobs and reduce pay levels, and that migrant shopkeepers undercut the prices charged by local businessmen and women.

Addressing the issue of former South African freedom fighters, Zuma said they had been treated with "dignity, solidarity and friendship in countries such as Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Uganda and even as far afield as Ethiopia and Algeria."

He called for "an improved understanding" of the plight of refugees and of why they were in South Africa.

"There needs to be an understanding that not all foreign nationals are in South Africa illegally," he said. "Legal immigrants contribute constructively to the economic and social development of our country."

He added: "Let us embrace especially our African brothers and sisters, who usually bear the brunt of ill-treatment more than foreigners from other continents."

He said the government's Department of Home Affairs was formulating new policy which would enable more human treatment for foreign nationals.

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