South Africa: UNHCR Urges Refugees to Stay in South Africa, Despite Their Circumstances

Refugees are seen leaving while police cordon off the area.
analysis

Protesting refugees in Cape Town and Pretoria are still adamant that they want to leave SA for a country where they will feel 'safe'. The UNHCR insists that mass resettlement is not possible and has offered to repatriate refugees to their home countries -- but is urging refugees to stay in South Africa.

It's been a week since migrants and refugees were forcibly removed from the UNHCR offices at the Waldorf Arcade in Cape Town after staging a sit-in that began in early October.

Their demands were to be repatriated to a third country where they could feel "safe" after the most recent wave of xenophobic attacks.

Most refugees who flee to South Africa come from Somalia, Ethiopia and the DRC. Refugees at Central Methodist are largely Congolese. (Photo: Noah Tobias)

Hundreds are now seeking refuge at the Central Methodist Church on Cape Town's Greenmarket Square, where they are receiving food and medical care amid cramped and sweaty conditions.

Meanwhile, more than 400 people are still camped outside the UN Refugee Agency in Waterkloof, Pretoria and on Wednesday 6 November the Pretoria High Court postponed an urgent application by two homeowners' associations to have the protesters immediately removed.

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