Picture: Matlhatsi Dibakwane/Pretoria News

Pretoria - A group of foreign nationals consisting of women, children as well as men demanded that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Regional Office for Southern Africa in Brooklyn, Pretoria protect them from xenophobic attacks. 

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.

However the refugees from Burundi, Congo, Malawi, Ethiopia and Somalia said since xenophobic attacks took place the refugees commission has kept quiet on refugee problems. The group said since the attacks on foreign nationals women and children have been physically abused, and several of their businesses burnt down. 

They demanded that they be protected from xenophobic attacks. The commission must also look into female violence, asylum and refugee permit statuses, protection from the South African Police Service, safety for their children and their education as well as the unemployment rate because they do not have official documents.

The group's spokesperson Anitha Nkozimana questioned why in other countries it was easy to obtain asylum seeking documents or refugee permits but in South Africa it was difficult to obtain documents. 

“As the violence against foreign nationals continue our only hope is the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. We are being attacked and everyone is silent on how we as refugees could be assisted. The police are also not of any help. 

“We are questioning why in other countries the commission is active when it comes to refugee problems but here they are silent.”

The group handed their memorandum to a protection associate.

Pretoria News