UN Refugee Agency head to conclude SA visit amid concerns by foreign nationals

Filippo Grandi arrived on Monday and met with representatives of refugees and asylum seekers in Pretoria.

FILE: Hundreds of foreign nationals gathered at UN Refugee Agency offices in Cape Town on 8 October 2019, wanting the agency to help them leave SA. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The head of the United Nations Refugee Agency is on Tuesday in South Africa to meet with government, business leaders and NGO partners.

Filippo Grandi arrived on Monday and met with representatives of refugees and asylum seekers in Pretoria.

* MUST READ: No place to call home: Desperate foreign nationals look to flee 'hate' in SA

According to government statistics, South Africa is home to 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Following repeated acts of xenophobic violence, the South African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) said they were encouraged that South Africa is ensuring the safety of foreign nationals.

But it appears Grandi wanted to see this for himself. Asylum seekers have told Grandi that they were still worried about their security in this country.

He said their other concerns were mainly linked to better access to documentation, information and the process to obtain refugee papers.

But Grandi said he felt encouraged as refugees continued to express their concerns in a peaceful manner.

He concludes his visit on Tuesday.

* UN Refugee Agency says working to help foreign nationals in CT