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Xenophobic attacks worry FIFA

afrol News, 27 May - The world governing football body FIFA is worried about the increasing waves of deadly xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa. But it ruled out any possibility that the violence would impact on the country's hosting of the 2010 World Cup.

A total of 60 people were reported killed after African immigrants were attacked by angry weapon-wielding South African mobs. Mobs also razed shops and homes of immigrants as well as raped women. Immigrant workers - who were accused of taking jobs, public housing and aggravating crime levels - have been mainly targeted for attacks in nine provinces.

Of the five million immigrants in South Africa, Zimbabweans form three millions.

South African authorities condemned the "shameful act that blemishes" the country's image and called on their citizens to be mindful of the support accorded to them by other African countries during the struggle against apartheid.

The xenophobic attacks run contrary to the 2010 Local Organising Committee's Africa Legacy Programme that seeks to promote that ownership of the event by the whole continent. They also capable of derailing the country's tourism boom.

FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, told a new conference that "we took note with concern the latest development in South Africa." He described the attacks as "terrible" but expressed the world football body's concern and abhorrence of South African xenophobic attacks.

FIFA executive committee was briefed on South Africa's state of preparations for the World Cup. The committee also discussed the xenophobic violence at its meetings in Sydney, Australia.

Blatter said there is no need to move the World Cup elsewhere because the situation is under control.

"We trust them, I trust them, and we will do this World Cup 2010 definitely in South Africa," Mr Blatter said.

"The executive reiterated its trust in the authorities to keep the security situation under control and asserted once again its full confidence in South Africas organisation of the next World Cup."

On Monday, South African government had announced bringing the situation under control. More than 1,000 people have so far been arrested in connection with the attacks.

South Africa has so far become the first African country to win hosting the world's prestigious soccer tournament.

Indemnation reaction to the barbaric attacks - mainly in the form of condemnations and appeal for help - have been swift. Already, some African countries, including Mozambia and Zimbabwe, have started repatriating their nations back home. The Internat

The Internationational Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Africa has added its voice to denounce the xenophobic attacks. It urged President Thabo Mbeki "to take immediate and effective action" against such acts.

In a letter to President Mbeki, the Nairobi-based organisation said it was "senseless" and "outrageous" that the lives and properties of tens of thousands of innocent migrant workers and their families were subjected to hatred and violent attacks.

The ITUC Secretary General, Kwasi Adu Amankwah, said the loss of increasing number of innocent lives, the hundreds of severely wounded and thousands of displaced people and the shock and traumatic effects on all their relatives and others have caused a deep social crisis among the predominantly urban population of South Africa.

“All efforts are needed to maintain peace in South Africa and to create an enabling environment for a real social integration of migrant workers in the South African communities,” he said.

The movement reminded South Africans that, during the dark era of apartheid, workers across Africa united in the predecessor organisations of ITUC-Africa, and tirelessly contributed to the defeat of the apartheid system. “African workers’ solidarity strengthened South African workers to take their future in their own hands and to make their country a welcome and safe place to live.”

Mr Amankwah blamed the governing African National Congress for being “the first to be responsible and the first to be blamed” for these unprecedented outbursts of xenophobic and anti-immigrant feelings.

He urged President Mbeki to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the violent attacks.

The head of South African's National Intelligence Agency, Manala Manzini, accused rightwingers linked to the former apartheid government of "stoking xenophobic violence."

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe supported President Thabo Mbeki’s decision to deploy the army to support the police in halting the tide of violence.

"Many of us, including myself, will think of the kindness we received in the poorest communities of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria and many other African states.

"We will recall that our neighbours were collectively punished by the apartheid regime for harbouring the cadres of the ANC. We will remember that our children were given spaces in overcrowded schools in remote rural villages, and when we were injured and ill, the hospitals of many African countries nursed us back to health," he said.

Meanwhile, South Africans of all colours, including blacks, have massively responded to calls by aid workers to assist thousands of displaced people sheltered in police stations and churches. They keep pouring food, clothing and money to the victims.

The founder of Gift of the Givers, Imtzia Sooliman, was surprised about the massive support. “I have been in this industry for 15 years and I have never seen a response like this,"Sooliman said.

The support is a clear indication that majority of South Africans are unhappy with the attacks. For most South Africans, by lending support to the displaced persons forms part of the unity emphasised by the African culture.

But aid agencies expressed worry about the rising humanitarian situation displaced people are facing. Most of them who live in tents have been left at the mercy of cold and rains.

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