South Africa's Xenophobic Violence Displaces Thousands

South Africa's Xenophobic Violence Displaces Thousands

In South Africa, xenophobic attacks on foreigners have left at least 20 people dead and 30,000 displaced. For the first time since apartheid ended, South Africa has deployed its army on its own streets, in an attempt to quell the attacks which began about 10 days ago, and have spread throughout the country.

Taking out their frustration with a 40 percent unemployment rate, inflation, and crime, mobs of locals around Johannesburg are targeting Nigerian-owned businesses, or those who have fled turbulent and nearby Zimbabwe to settle in South Africa. Originally, locals were blaming the migrants for crime and economic hard times; yet, now it appears the violence is purposeless and simply criminal.

While President Thabo Mbeki tries to stop the murdering, abuse, and looting, South African relief agencies are raising funds to help address the long term needs of the thousands of people who have been wounded or displaced. The Red Cross hopes to connect victims with psychological assistance as well as with their families outside the country. The organization also is launching an anti-discrimination campaign in the local communities.

For an inside look at the unrest, check out these pictures. At what point do economic frustration and intolerance turn to widespread violence? How can this tipping point be avoided?