WATCH: Refugees expelled from UNHCR building spend night in church
On Wednesday, the police and the City’s law enforcement officers helped the sheriff of the court execute a court order to remove the group, who were camping on the ground floor of the Waldorf Arcade building, demanding that the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), situated inside the building, facilitate their resettlement in First World countries.
About 100 people were arrested on Wednesday, among them 14 minors and about 20 women who were later released without charge.
On Thursday, aid organisation Gift of the Givers provided relief in the form of blankets, food and nappies for children.
Ali Sablay from Gift of the Givers said: “Today we are doing a full force intervention where we will provide breakfast and lunch packs, formula for babies, hygiene packs and water to help them feel comfortable during their stay in the church,” he said.
Western Cape SA Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen was at the church to monitor the situation “to see if there is any violation of human rights”, he said.
Addressing concerns over missing children who were allegedly snatched away from their mothers, Nissen said they did not receive any reports of missing children or dead people.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) at the police station reception area there was only one child and we found her mother to come and fetch her,” he said.
Nissen said he was in contact with the ministerial offices about a meeting on the way forward.
The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town said: “We deplore any violence, but we witnessed the protesters being provided with ample warning to leave the area - especially those mothers with children.”
The UNHRC appealed to the refugees involved in the protest to respect the laws of the country and called upon them to return “peacefully” to their residences in South Africa.
UNHCR spokesperson Joan Allison said the agency received their concerns, including resettlements, which she said were only available for a limited number of “very vulnerable” refugees.@Mtuzeli