South Africa

WATCH: Refugees demand assistance to leave SA

WATCH: Refugees demand assistance to leave SA
REFUGEES and asylum-seekers camp outside the Waldorf Arcade in the city centre, where the Cape Town offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are located. They are accusing the agency of failing them. David Ritchie African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The City, Home Affairs and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are sitting with their arms folded, while hundreds of refugees are living in unhygienic conditions in a cramped space that they’ve occupied, negatively impacting businesses.

They have been in the Waldorf Arcade in St George’s Mall for more than a week, as they continue to demand assistance with relocating to another country.

They protested throughout Monday, saying “no more South Africa” as they claim to be feeling threatened and vulnerable in the country, and have asked the UN offices to help them to leave.

The director at United Family and member of the Western Cape Refugee and Migrant Forum Patrick Matenga said: “The leaders of the refugee protesters told them they were promised resettlement if they occupy the spaces outside the UN offices.

“The refugees are expecting to be relocated, but they are getting inaccurate and false promises from their leaders.”

Matenga said the refugees want to leave the country as they fear xenophobic attacks while they are in the streets or while using transport.

Hundreds of foreigners also started to sleep outside the offices of the UNHCR in Brooklyn, Pretoria.

“The refugees, and especially the mothers and children, are feeling very vulnerable in the country, therefore they are taking their leaders or whoever is telling them to sleep outside the offices seriously, in the hope of being relocated,” said Matenga.

Home Affairs were asked whether they were involved in any way with the refugees demanding to be relocated.

Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said: “The department contacted the UNHCR last week. The agency said it would inform us if there are issues related to Home Affairs that are raised by the refugees.

“We’ll consider those issues when they are raised with us,” he said.

Executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman said the City’s law-enforcement department was aware of what the foreigners were experiencing and would be liaising with immigration services at Home Affairs.

The owner of the Mesopotamia restaurant in Greenmarket square opposite the UNHCR’s offices, Baran Kalay, said the foreigners had been impacting his restaurant as well as the surrounding businesses.

“Its been nine days that the refugees have been sleeping here, and it is very unhygienic because there are no ablution facilities. The tourists and customers rather turn away and choose not to visit the restaurant or the surrounding shops because of the refugee crowds,” said Kalay.

Kalay said that the Greenmarket Square gets more full in the evening.


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Cape Argus