People from other countries may be reluctant to present for testing or to report contacts that hold an irregular documentation status for fear of arrest. We need a blanket amnesty to ensure that all in South Africa feel safe to participate in testing and for effective contact tracing.
VIDEO: Unfiltered: Coronavirus ACMS Associate Professor Jo Vearey was recently part of an interview panel on the SABC News Unfiltered talk show that discussed migration and Covid-19 in South Africa. You can watch the conversation here.
As Europe shuts down in response to the spread of COVID-19, other African countries are just beginning to grapple with the early signs of the pandemic. In this show, we discuss the COVID-19 response in South Africa, where an impending winter, a long history of the HIV-AIDS pandemic, and xenophobic attitudes are combining to generate some surprising and unexpected responses to the crisis. Leading Public Health specialist, Professor Jo Vearey chats to Abbey Steele and Darshan Vigneswaran. Click here to listen to the podcast.
Urgent measures are required to ensure we include all foreign migrants – not only tourists and international travellers from high- and medium-risk countries – in our response to Covid-19. There needs to be assurance that, regardless of their current documentation status, no foreign migrant will face any sanctions when engaging with state authorities, including when seeking healthcare or being included in contact tracing. Without this, our efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19 will fail.
Whether the apparent lack of consideration of foreign migrants is a result of their continued exclusion in public health planning, or due to the initial cases of Covid-19 identified in South Africa being imported from outside of the African continent, is irrelevant. Perhaps the tables have turned and recognition of the ways in which international tourist travel can be associated with the spread of infectious diseases has been brought to light, challenging and perhaps even silencing, at least for now, the pervasive blaming of foreign migrants for the health challenges faced in South Africa.
An effective response to South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak is an inclusive response. This keeps migrants safe and it keeps everyone in South Africa healthy. It reduces the need for people to cross the border through irregular routes that may not only be dangerous but do not have the healthcare workers needed to screen people for the new virus. Effective management of this public health crisis will involve all of us. This would truly be a case of, what Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently called, “international solidarity”.
To successfully address COVID-19, our public health programming must engage with everyone in South Africa, including refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants from elsewhere on the continent and beyond. We must use inclusive language in our messaging, and avoid the tendency of the state to refer to South African “citizens”—rather than to “all in South Africa”—in their COVID-19 communication. We must work collectively and without discrimination if we are to have any chance of slowing down the virus’s spread. This isn’t negotiable: it is a must in the context of COVID-19 if we are to support, as best we can, our already struggling public healthcare system (which, by the way, is not struggling due to the presence of foreign migrants in the country, in spite of popular opinion to the contrary).
Stop spreading dangerous lies. Foreign migrants are not root cause of SA’s problems Jo Vearey and Gina Snyman 2019-09-24 Originally published in City Press Foreign nationals protesting outside the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court after fellow migrants were arrested due to lack of documentation. Picture: Sandile Ndlovu No matter how inconvenient it may be for the … Continue reading Stop spreading dangerous lies. Foreign migrants are not root cause of SA’s problems
In sickness and in health: why the Minister of Home Affairs has a duty of care to tackle endemic anti-foreigner sentiment By Jo Vearey and Rebecca Walker• 26 September 2019 Originally published on Daily Maverick Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi is spreading the disease of xenophobia through his own unsubstantiated public comments directly blaming foreign … Continue reading In sickness and in health: why the Minister of Home Affairs has a duty of care to tackle endemic anti-foreigner sentiment
Vearey, J., Hui, C. and Wickramage, K. (2019) Chapter 7: Migration and Health: current issues, governance, and current knowledge gaps in: McAuliff M. and Khadria, B. (eds) World Migration Report. International Organization for Migration: Geneva [OPEN ACCESS] There is a dynamic and complex relationship between migration and health. Migration can lead to greater exposure to health risks, … Continue reading World Migration Report – Migration & Health: current issues, governance and current knowledge gaps
Migration in Africa CHANNEL AFRICA | AFRICAN DIALOGUE https://embed.iono.fm/epi/790510 Only twenty-percent of migrants actually leave the African continent, according to the African Union. More people move from the Horn of Africa to southern Africa than those crossing the Sahara to north Africa to reach Europe. There is even more movement within West Africa, a region that historically … Continue reading Migration in Africa: Channel Africa (SABC)
Rebecca Walker and I report on recent research undertaken in partnership with Sonke Gender Justice exploring gender, health and migration in Southern Africa.