Scores of foreign nationals were camping in in front of the premises of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town on Wednesday, demanding to be removed from South Africa where they no longer feel safe.
About 250 people, claiming to be asylum seekers from Congo, Ethiopia, Pakistan and other African countries, said they gathered since Tuesday, promising not to leave until UNHCR deport them to other host countries.
Wrapped in blankets, women and children were lying in the corridors of the building housing UNHCR offices in central Cape Town, while men among them can be seen pacing the floor AFP reporters said.
“We are here because we want the UN and other organizations that help refugees, to take us to a safe place,” Radjab Mugemangango, a 47-year-old Rwandan driver, told AFP. “South Africa is no longer a place of peace, we are not safe.”
A wave of xenophobic riots affected several South African cities in September. Hundreds of foreign-owned businesses and goods, including that of Nigerians, were ransacked and burned, mainly in Johannesburg.
The unrest left at least 12 people dead, most of them South Africans, and tensions between Pretoria and Abuja, the two main powers on the continent.
“They say that foreigners steal their jobs, take their wives,” a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, told AFP Papi Sukami, on Wednesday. “Everywhere we face discrimination, they do not treat refugees with dignity in this country, we are tired,” he added, asking UNHCR to “find peace for them”.
No UNHCR official was immediately available to respond.