Foreign nationals in South Africa camping outside the UN High Commission for Refugees in the Cape Town CBD. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Foreign nationals in South Africa camping outside the UN High Commission for Refugees in the Cape Town CBD. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Refugees protesting in CBD want access to water, medicine

By Raphael Wolf Time of article published Oct 21, 2019

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Cape Town – Among the concerns of refugees living and sleeping for over a month in a CBD building’s arcade and adjacent pavements, while protesting to be taken from South Africa to any welcoming country, is medical care, ablution facilities and access to water.

Refugees are demanding that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi meet with them to negotiate their removal from South Africa to another country.

The UNHCR’s mandate is to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

Women and Children at Concern (WCC) spokesperson Julie Ombaro said: “We are supposed to have 24-hour medical care, because anyone can become sick here. We have young people, old people and babies and anything can happen at any time.”

Lamenting the lack of water, especially for ablution purposes, Ombaro said: “We buy water from the shops every day. There are no toilets, no bathroom facilities and no water here.

Fellow-leader Jean-Pierre Balous of the WCC, which represents the protesters, said: “All I can say is that the UN official was here to inspect the situation, but nothing was discussed with us. We want the UN to take us out of South Africa where we can be in a safe place.”

Cape Times

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