Attacks on S. Africa migrants spread

Updated 16 April 2015

Attacks on S. Africa migrants spread

CAPE TOWN: South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday appealed for calm as a wave of anti-immigrant violence spread to Johannesburg, raising fears the country’s dire economic woes could spark widespread unrest.
At least six people have been killed in the last two weeks in attacks in the Indian Ocean city of Durban that targeted shops and homes owned by Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and other immigrants.
Police in the Actonville area of Johannesburg used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of anti-immigrant protesters on Thursday, while foreign-owned shops in the Jeppestown area of the city were attacked overnight.
“We have witnessed shocking and unacceptable incidents of violence directed at foreign nationals,” Zuma told Parliament.
“No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops.
“We appeal for calm, an end to the violence, and restraint.
“The police have been directed to work round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters.”
Thousands of people marched through Durban to call for better protection for immigrants, more than 1,000 of whom have fled their homes in the city and sought shelter in camps.
Marchers chanted “Down with xenophobia!” and “A United Africa” at an event attended by residents, students and local religious and political leaders.
Police have vowed to quell the unrest, which claimed its latest victim on Monday when a 14-year-old boy was killed in KwaMashu, a township north of Durban.
“There are tensions in various parts of the country between some locals and foreign nationals (but) lawlessness will not be tolerated,” National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega said in a statement.
Police, who also reported tensions in Pietermaritzburg, a city some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Durban, called for community leaders to help reduce friction and added that false rumors of attacks were increasing fear.
Earlier this year, similar xenophobic violence erupted in Soweto, near Johannesburg, as frustration deepens over lack of opportunities for many young blacks 21 years after the end of apartheid in 1994.
South Africa’s economic growth was just 1.5 percent last year and unemployment is at around 25 percent — soaring to over 50 percent among the young.
Violence against immigrants in South Africa is common, with unemployed locals accusing foreigners of taking their jobs.
In 2008, 62 people were killed in xenophobic violence in Johannesburg townships.
One of the marchers in Durban, Eric Machi, 34, said he rented rooms to Zimbabweans and Malawians until they fled from attackers in recent weeks.
“We are trying to make peace with those people who came here from Africa, but now they are gone,” he said.
“It started late at night. The attackers were shouting and throwing stones, and breaking some houses.” Zuma told Parliament he wanted to address the root cause of the attacks — including illegal immigration and accusations that many migrants are criminals.
“We wish to emphasize that while some foreign nationals have been arrested for various crimes, it is misleading and wrong to label or regard all foreign nationals as being involved in crime,” he said.
“Many (immigrants) bring skills that are scarce that help us to develop the economy and are most welcome to live our country.
Many shops in the center of Johannesburg were shut on Wednesday and Thursday after threats spread via social networks and text messages.


Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

Updated 18 October 2019

Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

  • President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

COLOMBO: The Palaly Airport, a former military air base, has been turned into Jaffna International Airport, the third gateway to the island.

The new airport was inaugurated by the island’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet ministers also witnessed the ceremony.

The refurbished airport, costing $13.8 million, has a 1,400-meter long runway to facilitate ATR 72 aircraft, which can carry 70 passengers. It will later be expanded to 3,500 meters to handle large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and A321.

Located approximately 16 km north of Jaffna, Palaly was a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport. The airport was built by the British Royal Air Force during the WWII.

After independence, Palaly Airport was used as the second international airport of the country for flights to southern India before the civil war began, almost 40 years ago.

President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the upgraded Jaffna International Airport marked a “turning point” in Sri Lankan aviation, which would be “an asset for the entire nation.”

“The airport will deploy regional airliners and be elevated to an Asian travel destination,” the premier said.

“The airport, which is expected to accommodate direct flights between Sri Lanka and India, will contribute toward promoting the tourism industry in the north. This will play an important role in the economic growth and overall development of the country,” he added.  

The service will be made available first for Indian destinations, and later for flights to Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East and some European cities.                                                      

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said Palaly airport was developed into Jaffna International Airport in a very short period of time.

“We were able to overcome the challenge successfully due to the sincere assistance we received from all institutes and stakeholders contributed to the development,” he said.

The minister said that in addition to Colombo and Jaffna international airports, three more airports in Sri Lanka will be upgraded to international airports, such as Ratmalana and Batticaloa.

“The opening of Jaffna airport for regional scheduled commercial passenger operations will undoubtedly enhance the quality of life of people in the area, with improved connectivity and accessibility that the airport brings to the region. It would also help reduce the current congestion at Bandaranaike International Airport and also eliminate the difficulties of the people in the north have in coming to Colombo Airport,” said H. M. C.Nimalsiri, director general of civil aviation.