South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, warned Friday that “uncontrolled” immigration could harm European states, pointing to a wave of xenophobic attacks that hit his country this year
Speaking in Barcelona at an annual gathering of Nobel laureates, the man credited for ending apartheid in South Africa together with Nelson Mandela and with whom he shared a Nobel Peace Prize said allowing too many jobless people to come at once could pose a risk.
“There is a risk… of unemployment becoming a problem, of newcomers prepared to work outside the labour regulations of the country,” the 79-year-old told reporters.
“When I say this, I’m talking about experience in South Africa. About 10 per cent of our population are illegal immigrants. They’re prepared to work outside the labour laws, below the minimum wage, and some employers make use of this.
“And this has led on a number of occasions to the local population saying ‘you’re taking our jobs’ and to incidents of xenophobia in South Africa,” he said.
South was hit by a wave of attacks on migrants earlier this year that saw at least seven people killed as mobs hunted down workers from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other African states.
The violence, in a country plagued by high unemployment, forced hundreds of terrified families to abandon their homes and seek safety in camps.
“Uncontrolled and unregulated immigration can have very negative consequences,” said Mr de Klerk.
He nevertheless praised countries like Germany and Sweden that have opened their doors to refugees.
“But I think the time has arrived for better regulation and better coordination,” he said, calling on the European Union to tackle the refugee crisis at its core.
He said more aid should be given to countries such as Jordan where hundreds of thousands of refugees have massed as they flee neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
He also called on countries in the Middle East to cooperate on tackling jihadist groups waging the violence pushing people to leave their homelands.
SOURCE: AFRICA REVIEW