Press Release: UNHCR urges resolution to refugee protests

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is closely following developments in front of its office in Cape Town, South Africa, where police – pursuant to a court order – is acting to address the protest by refugees and asylum-seekers. The police action is being undertaken after refugees and asylum seekers staged a sit-in protest since 8 October at UNHCR’s office in Cape Town.

UNHCR appeals to refugees and asylum-seekers involved in the protests in Cape Town and Pretoria to respect the laws of the country. We also call upon them to return peacefully to their residences in South Africa. UNHCR and its partners stand ready to provide assistance to those in need.

UNHCR has been engaging with the refugees and asylum-seekers since the onset of the protests, encouraging them to participate in constructive dialogue to address their grievances and find a peaceful resolution to the situation.

UNHCR has received the concerns of the protesters with regard to personal safety, access to documentation, challenges accessing services and job opportunities. The protesters also expressed demands for resettlement, which is only available for a limited number of very vulnerable refugees.

South Africa is a generous host country with progressive asylum policies and laws. It is hosting 268,000 refugees and asylum-seekers according to government statistics.

UNHCR and its partners will continue to support the Government in providing assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
In Cape Town, Joan Allison, allison@unhcr.org, +27 68 104 6659
In Pretoria, Helene Caux, caux@unhcr.org, +27 82 376 5190
In Pretoria, Pumla Rulashe, rulashe@unhcr.org, +27 12 762 7413