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Resettlement not a practical solution for foreign nationals - migrant forum

Hundreds of citizens from other parts of the continent have been staging a sit-in at the agency's Cape Town offices demanding they be assisted to leave South Africa.

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 - The Western Cape Refugee and Migrant Forum said that resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency was not a practical solution.

Hundreds of citizens from other parts of the continent have been staging a sit-in at the agency's Cape Town offices demanding they be assisted to leave South Africa.

They said that they were desperate to leave because of safety concerns amid xenophobia.

The Western Cape Refugee and Migrant Forum said that instead of resettlement, the solutions to the fears of refugees were countering xenophobia and encouraging integration.

The forum represented several migrant-related organisations and said that resettlement was only for refugees with specific protection needs and vulnerabilities, which was determined by UNHCR on a case-by-case basis only.

They said that only a small number of refugees could be resettled from South Africa and in 2015, only 379 were resettled.

The Adonis Musati Project's Gahlia Brogneri said that they were distancing themselves from the sit-in.

"One of the reasons is that it is an illegal sit-in, we fell that it is putting women and children, in particular, at risk, that they've been given false information that if they stay there for as long as possible, they will eventually be settled overseas and that is not true."

United Family's Patrick Matenga shared the same views.

"There are problems in South Africa, there is crime in South Africa and this needs to be addressed."