Foreign Nationals in South Africa protesting outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - The United Nations Refugee Agency High Commissioner Filippo Grandi has arrived in South Africa for a two-day visit.

Grandi, who will be in the country until Wednesday, is expected to have a series of meetings with state authorities, business leaders, local UN representatives, NGO partners, and others.

At his request, he met some representatives of refugees and asylum seekers in Pretoria on his arrival on Tuesday morning. They were joined by video link by two refugee community leaders in Cape Town. 

Grandi listened to their concerns, mainly linked to better access to documentation and information, the process to obtain refugee papers, as well as issues of personal security. 

“I had a useful and constructive meeting with some refugee representatives today in Pretoria,” said Grandi.

“I told them that UNHCR will continue to develop its dialogue with them, and that I will also discuss their concerns with the authorities during my visit in the country.” 

The High Commissioner encouraged the refugees to continue to express their concerns in a peaceful manner. 

Last week, hundreds of foreign nationals gathered at the UN Refugee Agency's offices in Cape Town demanding the agency help them leave South Africa. The foreign nationals, many claiming to be asylum seekers from various African countries, said they wanted to be removed from South Africa, saying it was no longer safe to be in the country. 

According to government statistics, South Africa is home to 268 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. 

African News Agency (ANA)