Foreign nationals camping outside the UN High Commission for Refugees in Brooklyn in protest against the recent xenophobic attacks in the country. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - Calls for foreigners camping outside the UN High Commission for Refugees to approach the Department of Home Affairs for assistance have been met with scepticism.

The group spokesperson Alice Bukuru said on Tuesday that the reluctance to seek help from the department was due to the fact that foreigners had been severely disappointed by the institution.

She was reacting to the advice by the chairperson of the portfolio committee on home affairs, Advocate Bongani Bongo, who said they should turn to home affairs for intervention.

Bukuru said the department had developed tendencies to put restrictions on foreigners who wanted to sort out their refugee status.

"The home affairs system is not good at all it does not uphold human dignity at all," she said.

Refugees' spokesperson Alice Bukuru explains why they camped outside the UN High Commission. Video: Rapula Moatshe


She pointed fingers at the home affairs officials for not treating them well, saying they were making people's lives difficult.

"People go there and spend a day without help. 

"You will make a follow-up the next day and you would still not receive help," Bukuru said.

She said most children of foreigners were not going to school because they didn't have birth certificates.

"We have raised the issue regarding children's birth certificates before.  

"We were told that their parent's countries are the ones that should provide them with birth certificates. 

"Schools can't register them because they don't have birth certificates," Bukuru said.

Comments from UN officials could not be obtained as they were said to be in a meeting.

Bukuru said officials met with them on Monday and promised to re-look at their request for protection.

Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said: “The department contacted the agency last week. 

"The agency said it would contact us if there were specific issues raised with them. We are waiting to hear from them.”

Pretoria News