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‘We need to leave this country’: Foreign nationals in CT call on UN for help

Dozens of foreigners gathered at the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town on Tuesday to plead for help.

Foreign nationals pictured at the UN Refugee Agency Offices in Cape Town on 8 October 2019. The group asked the agency to help them leave South Africa. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Some asylum seekers in Cape Town are so scared of violence and xenophobia in South Africa that they’re staging a desperate bid to leave the country, hopefully with the help of the United Nations.

Dozens of foreigners gathered at the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town on Tuesday to plead for help.

Citizens included those from the DRC, Burundi, Somalia and Pakistan.

* Ramaphosa: Xenophobic violence doesn't represent values of SA or Nigeria

For hours, parents sat with their babies on the floor, clinging to their documents with the hopes of being assisted.

A Congolese man told Eyewitness News they had had enough of the violence.

“In Canada, Australia and the USA, we are welcome there. We need to leave this country, it’s not safe anymore. If my country was safe, I would have returned there.”

A Burundian woman accused the government of ignoring the plight of refugees, not only in Johannesburg where recent xenophobic attacks occurred but in Cape Town too.

“We can’t go to the government, because the government helps their people. So, we are asking for help so that we can go to another country.”

The UNHCR has yet to respond.

Government has acknowledged the sit-in at the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Cape Town.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams called on all citizens and foreign nationals to live in harmony.

Williams said the Western Cape Refugee and Migrant Forum distanced itself from this sit-in.