South Africa - Police Evict Migrants Camped At UN Office

Hundreds of foreign nationals have been evicted from a Cape Town arcade where they were holding a sit-in outside UN offices. The protesters, whose sit-in began on October 8, wanted to be evacuated from South Africa following incidents of xenophobia and because they felt targeted as foreigners. In a series of pictures by GroundUp's Ashraf Hendricks, a woman, in tears, said that she was separated from her seven-month-old baby during the eviction.

30 October 2019

Police in Cape Town using water cannon have dispersed scores of migrants who'd camped for weeks outside a UN refugee office after deadly riots. South African media showed small children among those dragged away.

South African police on Wednesday evicted a large group of migrants who had been camped outside a UN refugee office for several weeks.

The evictions from a downtown arcade resulted in about 100 people being arrested for failing to "heed the call to disperse," said the South African Police Service, citing a court order obtained by a landlord.

Local media showed visibly distressed campers, mostly from other African countries and some carrying infants, who said they had sought shelter since xenophobic attacks on foreigners in Johannesburg and Pretoria earlier this year.

The UN refugee agency did not immediately respond to questions about the police sweep but last week had warned of "false messages" about resettlement.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in early October, amid South African promises to defuse "restiveness" after 12 deaths and more than 700 arrests and following extraordinary airlifts of Nigerians back home.

Those attacks had led to anger in many African countries and criticism of Ramaphosa's government for not explicitly speaking out against xenophobia.

In parliament on Wednesday Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said South Africa's fragile economy was not strong enough in view of 29% unemployment.

Ramaphosa recently urged South Africans not to take their frustration out on foreigners. He had initially been criticized for portraying migrant protest as crime.

(AP, Reuters, dpa)

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