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Foreign nationals demand action from UNHRC to help them leave SA

Hundreds of refugees protested in Cape Town today, to raise a number of concerns including safety, infringement of their rights and to also show support for those who had been illegally arrested and were in prison.

Hundreds of foreigners protest in Greenmarket Square in Cape Town on 18 December 2019. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Hundreds of foreigners protested in the CBD on Wednesday, calling for more action from the UNHCR as the Global Refugee Forum is underway.

Today is International Migrants Day.

The forum is currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland where the UNHCR is co-hosting the two-day global conference on refugees.

Hundreds of refugees protested in the CBD today, to raise a number of concerns including safety, infringement of their rights and to also show support for those who had been illegally arrested and were in prison.

While many of the protesters were those who were living in and outside a Methodist church in Greenmarket Square, some from other areas joined the protest.

It was clear from many posters held by women and men that they want to leave the country.

Children were standing behind red and white placards which read: "As a refugee child, I have no access to social grants" and "As a child, I have no future in SA".

Refugee activist JP Balous said that they wanted to leave, saying there was no future for foreign nationals, especially children.

"We have to send a message because without sending a message, there is no one to come to our rescue. It's just a waste of time that you are standing in line from sunup to 5pm. It is the struggle that you are in and you need a solution to your struggle."

The refugees will be continuing the protest throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs in Namibia said that it was still verifying the status of 51 foreign nationals who fled South Africa due to xenophobic attacks.

More than 600 foreigners, mostly from the Congo and Angola who were camping at the Pretoria and Cape Town UN Refugee agencies, fled to Namibia last month.

Namibian Home Affairs officials said that they had been moved to a resettlement centre just outside the capital Windhoek.

Public relations officer Sacky Kadhikwa: "It's an ongoing process. We're still busy verifying as it is not only dependant on the ministry. We verify from our side and then we also do with the refugee agencies. It's not just a one-day thing."

Additional reporting by Edwin Ntshidi.

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