Swaraj assures African nationals safety after diplomats boycott Africa Day
UPDATE: India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has asked junior minister VK Singh to meet heads of African missions in New Delhi to assure them of India’s commitment to the safety and security of African nationals in India.
“V.K. Singh will also hold meetings with African students in metro cities to assure them of their safety and security,” Swaraj tweeted.
In a sharp reaction following the lynching of a Congo national in Delhi last Friday, African diplomats have boycotted Indian government’s “Africa Day” celebrations scheduled for Wednesday. African diplomats said New Delhi must resolve the problems of “racism” first.
African envoys have also announced that they are likely to recommend to their governments “not to send new students to India” because of “stereotypes and racial prejudice against Africans in India”. The African Group of Heads of Mission declared that it would not join the May 25 Africa Day celebrations.
“Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, the African Heads of Mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed,” a statement from Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, Ambassador of Eritrea and Dean of the group said.
On 24 May, after a meeting of the group in the High Commission of Ghana, senior African diplomats met Ministry of External Affairs officials, and called upon India “to take concrete steps to guarantee the safety and security of Africans”.
“Accordingly, the Indian government is strongly enjoined to take urgent steps to guarantee the safety of Africans in India, including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problems of racism and Afro-phobia in India,” a statement from the group said.
“As regards this year’s celebration of Africa Day being organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for Thursday, the African Group has requested a postponement of the event. This is because the African community in India are in a state of mourning,” Eritrean Ambassador Alem Tsehage Woldemariam said in a press release.
On May 20, a Congolese national Masunda Kitada Oliver, was lynched in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area, allegedly over an argument over hiring an auto-rickshaw. He was beaten up with stones and bricks after being chased by three men. One of the three has been arrested, while the other two are still abscounding.