Despite Inequality In South Africa, African Migrants Go There More Than To Europe

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Written by Dana Sanchez

There’s inequality all over the world but it’s more pronounced in South Africa, where the wealth of the three richest billionaires equals the wealth of half the country’s population — its poorer half — according to a Fin24 report.

Still South Africa’s relative wealth and stability continue to draw migrants from all over Africa. You mostly hear about them when the country experiences outbreaks of xenophobic violence.

African refugees heading to Europe get disproportionate media coverage,  The Guardian reported. A far larger number would rather seek security and livelihood elsewhere in Africa that risk immigrating to Europe:

South Africa has the highest number of pending asylum claims in the world, with more than 1 million people waiting to be processed.

Of the world’s 17 million displaced Africans, the vast majority are in Africa. Only about 3 percent are in Europe. Of the top 10 source countries for refugees applying for asylum in Europe in 2015, just two African countries were among them: Eritrea was No. 7 and Nigeria was No. 8, according to Eurostat, BBC reported.

The world’s eight richest people are worth as much as the poorest half of the world, Oxfam said in a report released today. The report coincides with this week’s 47th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, scheduled to begin Tuesday in Davos, Fin24 reported.

This inequality is more pronounced in South Africa where the richest 1 percent of the country’s population own 42 percent, or $272 billion of the total wealth of $650 billion, according to data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2016, Oxfam said.

South Africa has anywhere from 1.5 million-to-3.2 million migrants, and two thirds of them come from elsewhere on the continent, mainly neighboring countries but also from as far away as Eritrea and Morocco, The Guardian reported.

There have been repeated outbreaks of xenophobic violence in South Africa, most recently in January and April 2015. More than 60 migrants were killed in attacks in 2008. Frequent targets of mob violence are the small spaza gorcery shops, often run by new migrants.

Xenophobic attacks in South Africa are fueled by a shortage of jobs, housing and services, The Guardian reported. Some political leaders stir up violence, said researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Planned reforms to South Africa’s overloaded immigration and asylum system will not “shut the door” on foreigners, said Malusi Gigaba, South Africa’s home affairs minister. But South Africa needs migrants “who complement but do not replace domestic skill development,” he said.