Somali Prime Minister Urges Zuma to Curb Attacks on Foreigners

Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon has written to South African President Jacob Zuma, urging him to bring an end to a spate of attacks directed against Somali businessmen.

“I appeal to the government of the Republic of South Africa as a matter of urgency to intervene and contain this unnecessary and unfortunate violence against Somali business communities to preserve peace and stability,” Shirdon said in an open letter to Zuma.

Dozens of South African township stores known as spaza shops that are owned by Somalis and other foreign nationals have been attacked and looted since May 22. The government has condemned the violence and the police have made more than 100 arrests.

South Africa’s foreign population rose to 2.2 million in October 2011 from 1.2 million a decade earlier, the latest census data shows. In May 2008, xenophobic violence spread across the continent’s biggest economy, leaving about 60 people dead and as many as 50,000 displaced.

“My government will vigorously work with the South African government to address these recurring problems,” Shirdon said in his letter, which his office released yesterday. “Our thoughts are with those Somalis who have suffered at this time of sadness.”

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