Zambia – Xenophobic Violence

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Spate of ritual killings leads to retaliatory attacks directed largely at foreign nationals in the region.

On April 7th a murder was reported in the capital Lusaka’s Matero constituency, the body showing signs of mutilation, with the heart and genital area removed. This incident marked the sixth case in a growing number of suspected ritual murders, reported Zambia Reports.

Over a week later, on April 18th, security services claimed they had arrested four people in connection with the attacks, with reports suggesting they may have been found with body parts. President Edgar Lungu commented that the motivations were surely something outside of the national Christian religion, reported Zambia Reports.

On the same day, in protest against the killings, locals looted shops in Zingalume, George and Matero townships; residents accused foreigners of being behind the six killings in the Zingalume area. Police spokesperson Charity Chanda confirmed that houses and shops belonging to foreigners had been destroyed and looted, reported the Times of Zambia.

In Chawama residents took to the streets in protest demanding that the government facilitate the deportation of foreigners in the area, particularly Rwandan nationals who are widely accused of involvement.

On April 19th the East African stated that as many as 200 people had been arrested in Lusaka during the protests. The most affected areas include George, Lilanda, Chunga and Zingalume in the west, and parts of Matero, Chaisa, Kabanana, Mandevu and Chipata in the north.

By April 20th as many as 62 shops had been looted and the figure of arrestees in connection to the violence had risen to 256.

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Lusaka

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative Ms Laura Lo Castro said, “we would like to urge Zambians to continue maintaining the unblemished high reputation, respected by the international community, of being hospitable to foreigners, including refugees,” reported the Herald.

Around 20 Rwandan nationals had approached the Rwandan High Commission in Lusaka for protection after the spate of xenophobic attacks, claimed Rwandan New Times.

The Rwanda High Commission’s interventions advised Rwandans in Lusaka that once threatened they should go to the nearest Police Station for safety but remain alert and avoid unnecessary movements; advising nationals to strictly abide and observe the national laws of the host country.

According to the Times of Zambia the recent levels of xenophobic violence are some of the worst since independence, with violence against Rwandans, Lebanese and Chinese residents on the rise. Analysts have also suggested that foreigners are usually engaged in business in Lusaka and have a higher financial status than many locals; the protests and riots were reportedly more common in the shanty towns than middle and higher class neighbourhoods.

According to the Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs Seraphine Mukantabana, there are over 10,000 Rwandan refugees in Zambia, mainly those who fled the 1994 Genocide. The Rwandan government has been attempting to lure some of those refugees back, by demonstrating the progress the country has made.

However, a majority of Rwandans in Zambia remain there for “economic reasons” with over 6,500 Rwandans running businesses in the capital Lusaka, reported the East African. On April 24th 13 Rwandans were flown out of Zambia after loosing property and lifetime savings in the attacks.

Charge d’Affaires at the High Commission of Rwanda in Zambia, Abel Buhungu, said on April 24th that the situation had calmed slightly as security forces were deployed in restive suburbs.

Find out more in the African Research Bulletin:

Zambia – Politician Arrested
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.20930B

ZAMBIA: Election Date
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.1, Pp.20851A–20851C

SOUTH AFRICA: Xenophobic Violence
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.4, Pp.20524C–20526A

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