A group of African refugees who have camped outside the UNHCR offices in South Africa’s administrative capital of Pretoria, for the past three weeks, are pleading with the agency to take them out of the country.
They say they have been targets of xenophobic attacks.
One of them identified by a local news site as Alex Nkoy said the group is composed of citizens of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.
Nkoy said they were not receiving any protection from the police or the government.
He said that some of them had stopped taking their children to school because they were being bullied because they don’t speak local languages.
We are seeking and ask protection from UNHCR South Africa is no longer a safe place for us as refugees, it is no longer home South Africa has become hell for us as refugeesthat is why we are asking UNHCR to take us out of South Africa to throw us anywhere in the world so we can feel safe.
This came after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, concluded his two-day visit to South Africa, where he held a range of discussions with refugees and met Pres Cyril Ramaphosa, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and senior government representatives over the situation of refugees and asylum seekers in the country.
Grandi said the UNHCR was dedicated to working with the authorities to help address concerns and find suitable solutions. He stressed that refugees opting for voluntary repatriation should be helped to return to their countries of origin.
According to government statistics, South Africa is currently hosting 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The UNHCR acknowledged that South Africa was confronted with the challenge of tackling the issue of an increase in population flow saying that asylum systems have come under immense strain as conflict and persecution drive more refugees across borders.
Migrants have also resorted to asylum channels in the absence of other safe, regular migration options.
Source: Nam News Network (NNN)