The asylum-seekers “sit-in” outside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices at Waldorf Arcade in Cape Town is gaining momentum. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The asylum-seekers “sit-in” outside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices at Waldorf Arcade in Cape Town is gaining momentum.

According to the protest organisers, the number has swelled to 5000 since the beginning of the protest three weeks ago, with others coming from as far as the Eastern Cape and Durban.

This after hundreds of refugees and asylum-seekers staged a sit-in and occupation of the UNHCR offices, demanding to be taken out of the country as they no longer felt safe.

The refugees are also accusing the UNHCR of failing to protect them against xenophobia, not helping them to get formal documentation and dragging their feet on resettlement in other countries.

Thilda Jack Yoppe, 35, a South African citizen married to a refugee, said the discrimination not only affected the refugees, but also South African citizens that were married to them.

“I've been married for 14 years now to the man from the DRC We can no longer be in a country where we are constantly reminded that we do not belong, being sworn at and mocked. Our people are constantly being slaughtered like chickens and we have had enough.”

She said there were people who have been in the South Africa for more than 20 years, seeking refugee status, but were still sent from pillar to post.

“I've no words to express how embarrassed I am to be South African. I hold no pride to be called a South African, just like how our brothers hold no pride towards us as their sisters with the current killings and raping of women.

“My ID document holds no benefit for me. They want me to leave. I want to leave. I have been treated as a second class citizen in my own fathers land, who fought for this country’s freedom. She said the government had kept all the refugees as mobile slaves and the only safe place that refugees were willing to be resettled to Canada, which she said had zero racism towards refugees.

“Currently, Canada is the only country that we can be able to settle in because we will be treated as human beings, with human rights. Where we will add value and not be a burden,” she said.

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Cape Argus