The refugee “sit-in” protest at the Cape Town UNHCR offices entered its fifth day today, with more refugees vowing not to leave. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The refugee “sit-in” protest at the Cape Town UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices entered its fifth day today, with more refugees vowing not to leave until the UNHCR provided the “right solution”.

Hundreds of refugees, including women and children, have demanded they be taken out of the country as it was no longer safe for them.

Sylvia Nahmana from Women and Child Concern (WCC) said the only solution they wanted from the UNHCR was a resettlement to safer countries.

Nahmana decried the ill treatment of foreigners in government schools and clinics: “We do not want any negotiations; whether they like it or not we want to be out of this country. You ‘people’ asked us to leave, and we want to do that while still alive and with our dignity intact.

“We can no longer be in a country where we are constantly reminded that we do not belong, being swore at and mocked. Our people are constantly being slaughtered like chicken and we have had enough.”

Alan Mury from the DRC has been in the country for 19 years. He said he applied for permanent residence six times but failed. He said the government is mired in discrimination, and also lambasted the issuing unabridged birth certificates to children he said were born in the country.

Jean Pierre said leading up to the protests, the group have exhausted all avenues, including seeking the intervention from the South African Human Rights Commission in ensuring the safety of refugees and asylum seekers.

Pierre also accused the SAHRC of corruption, labelling it as a “collapsed” organisation.

“I have numerous cases where we went to them and when they see that you are a foreigner or refugee, they tell you no, we do not deal with this. SAHRC is a complete disappointment that I am speaking with fact and proof, that they always dismiss foreigners cases.”


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Cape Argus