Developing a MOA to manage conflict risk between South Africans and foreign migrants

So far three workshops have been held in Robertson, Ceres and Paarl in the Langeberg, Witzenberg and Drakenstein municipalities respectively. The workshops have attracted diverse attendance combining: 

  • Councillors and officials from the local municipalities;
  • Disaster management from the District;
  • Departments of Community Safety and Health;
  • Representatives of international agencies such as the International Organisation for Migration and the UNHCR.

The initial session aims to deepen participants' understanding of:

  •  international migration issues and trends;
  • the  push and pull factors attracting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to South Africa;
  • the importance of domestic migration;
  • the linkages between migration, urbanisatio and informality;
  • the factors influencing the attacks on foreign migrants in 2008 and more recently in De Doorns in the Western Cape.

Click on the link in the box at the foot of this article to view a prezi which sets the scene for the discussion on migration and conflict. The prezi provides an overview of international migration trends, the nature of migration in South Africa, the factors triggerig domestic conflict and attacks by South Africans on foreign nationals.  It also examines the responses of government and civil society to lower conflict risk thresholds and respond to significant social displacement.

In the second session we draw on the local knowledge of councillors and officials to assess current levels of conflict risk in the different local municipalities which make up the Cape Winelands and to identify the trigger factors which contribute to outbreaks of conflict. These sessions have highlighted the role which migrants play in complex and contested local informal economies where they may simultaneously be perceived as an asset and a threat by different actors in the locality where they settle. 

In the third session participants identify and discuss  the roles and responsibilities of state and nonstate actors and how these change across the process of conflict risk reduction, preparedness and response as well as post-conflict reintegration and rehabilitation.

Participants address the difficult question of who has overall responsibility to manage conflict risk. There has been a strong emphasis on the role of the local municipality, local councillors and ward committees. However there is also an acknowledgement that these local structures may not function and that in certain instances there may be conflicts between local economic interests of councillors and their public responsibilities. At the same time there has been discussion about the role of Disaster Management and the need for dynamic co-ownership of social conflict risk management where the 'ownership portion' may expand or contract across different phases in the risk management cycle.

The fourth session examines how best to put in place effective conflict risk reduction strategies and early warning systems.

The ideas and suggestions are rising from the workshop process will inform the development of a draft memorandum of agreement which will be discussed and negotiated amongst key stakeholders in the next couple of months.

Workshop participants will be given access to our Wiggio collaboration site where documents and research reports can be downloaded.

Participants review conflict risk in the Langeberg Municipality
Participants review conflict risk in the Langeberg Municipality

Posted: 3/2/2011 (2:23:19 PM)

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