world refugee day
world refugee day

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday called for a speedy resolution to prolonged protests by refugees in South Africa.

“UNHCR appeals to refugees and asylum-seekers involved in the protests in Cape Town and Pretoria to respect the laws of the country,” the UNHCR said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

Groups of refugees have staged sit-ins at UNHCR offices in Cape Town and Pretoria since October 8 in protest against the South African government’s inability to protect their rights. The refugees urged the UN agency to move them to a different country, for fear of xenophobic violence in South Africa.

This came after a new spate of xenophobic violence gripped parts of the country last month, claiming the lives of at least 12 people.

On Wednesday, police battled with refugees involved in a sit-in protest in Cape Town and arrested about 100 people when trying to evict the refugees in light with to a court order.

The UNHCR said it was closely following the developments in front of its office in Cape Town.

The UN refugee agency called upon the refugees to return peacefully to their residences in South Africa.

“UNHCR and its partners stand ready to provide assistance to those in need,” the statement said.

The UNHCR has been engaging with the refugees and asylum-seekers since the onset of the protests, encouraging them to participate in constructive dialogue to address their grievances and find a peaceful resolution to the situation.

The UNHCR has received the concerns of the protesters with regard to personal safety, access to documentation, challenges accessing services and job opportunities, said the statement.

The protesters also expressed demands for resettlement, which is only available for a limited number of very vulnerable refugees, according to the statement.

The UNHCR and its partners will continue to support the South African government in providing assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in the country, the statement said.

South Africa is hosting more than 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the latest official figures. Enditem

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