South Africa is no exception to the growing worldwide phenomenon of xenophobia towards migrant populations, with a common belief that most foreigners stay in South Africa irregularly and that whatever they have has been acquired through illegal means.
In May 2008, this tension led to widespread anti-immigrant violence leaving 62 people dead and about 100,000 displaced.
In response to the problems in affected townships, IOM facilitated a number of cultural diversity workshops to build the capability of local NGOs to encourage social cohesion. Through its project on Strengthening Communities of Diversity and Peace, implemented since April 2011, IOM has trained “Peace Monitors” in six provinces of South Africa on topics such as: cultural diversity awareness, negotiation skills, identifying early signs of potential conflict and resolution strategies. The peace monitors often act as mediators, quelling tensions during times of conflict.
To further heighten awareness on the plight of migrants, as well as promote migrant integration, IOM has backed the production of a film titled Man on Ground, tackling identity, fear, xenophobia and reconciliation. Man on Ground was launched in May 2012, coinciding with the commemoration of the 2008 violence.