Xenophobia, International Migration and Human Development

2009 Occasional Paper
By Crush, Jonathan; Ramachandran, Sujata

In the continuing discussion on migration and development, the vulnerability of all migrant groups to exploitation and mistreatment in host countries has been highlighted along with an emphasis on protecting their rights. However, xenophobia has not yet received explicit attention although anti-migrant sentiments and practices are clearly on the rise even in receiving countries in developing regions. Despite gaps in existing empirical work, research and anecdotal evidence exposes pervasive forms of discrimination, hostility, and violence experienced by migrant communities, with the latter becoming easy scapegoats for various social problems in host countries. This study attempts to insert xenophobia in this debate on migration and development by examining the growth of this phenomenon in host countries in the South. It provides short accounts of xenophobia witnessed in recent times in five countries including South Africa, India, Malaysia, Libya, and Thailand. The ambiguity surrounding the concept is discussed and crucial features that define xenophobia are outlined. A variety of methods to study it are likewise identified. Using a wide range of examples from diverse contexts, the paper explores possible reasons for the intensification of xenophobia. The final sections of the paper briefly outline the developmental consequences of rampant xenophobia for migrant and host populations while examining policy options to tackle it.

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