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International News

Swaziland: Illegal Immigrants Replace Workforce Decimated by AIDS

November 13, 2003

Recently, Swaziland has been inundated with a flow of mostly illegal immigrants from neighboring Mozambique. Swazi authorities are tolerant toward the influx of undocumented workers, although many Swazis are upset.

With AIDS decimating the workforce in Swaziland, and many Swazis reluctant to do menial work, poor Mozambicans see opportunity across the border. Up to 40 percent of Swaziland's adult population is HIV-positive.

"Where are the factories going to get laborers? Where are businesses going to find staff? Unemployment is high and opportunities are limited, so the young educated class of Swazis goes to South Africa. ... The less educated are being decimated by AIDS," said an official with the Swaziland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In Manzini, Swaziland's most populous urban center, Mozambican immigrants sell sweets, combs and other items at the city's central bus stop. Some Manzini residents show their dissatisfaction with the Mozambican influx through vigilante activity. In the crowded bus stop, people suspected of stealing are set upon by an instant mob brandishing axe handles. The mob beats the accused then marches him or her to the police station. Barring actual evidence of a crime, police hold suspects for a few hours, then release them to get medical attention.

Because of the rise in vigilantism, police patrol the Manzini bus stop in greater numbers. They intervene when a mob finds a suspected criminal, and take the suspect away before the crowd gets violent.

The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, a nongovernmental organization that provides counseling and medical and legal assistance to abuse survivors, said Mozambicans make up a small minority of reported abusers.

Although Mozambique has one of the highest economic growth rates in Africa, it is currently the world's poorest country following two decades of civil war and post-war instability.

Back to other news for November 13, 2003

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service News Agency
11.10.03; James Hall

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News on HIV/AIDS in Swaziland