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‘We are not safe in SA’: Foreign nationals say they’re living in fear

On Wednesday, hundreds of refugees demonstrated in the Cape Town CBD to highlight concerns for their safety.

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

CAPE TOWN - A group of foreign nationals remains defiant in their campaign to leave South Africa.

On Wednesday, hundreds of refugees demonstrated in the Cape Town CBD to highlight concerns for their safety.

Explainer: Why foreign nationals can’t just leave SA

The protest coincided with International Migrants Day and the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, which ended on Wednesday.

Hundreds of refugees from Somalia, Bangladesh, and the DRC gathered in Greenmarket Square to have their voices heard.

The core of their concerns were safety and documentation issues. Some of the posters held by young and old read “our future as refugee children is hindered in South Africa” and “UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] please help us”.

Refugee activist JP Balous said they remained hopeful that the UN will step in and take action.

They also want those who they said were illegally arrested and who are in prison in Pretoria to be released.

“The refugees in South Africa are in danger and we want to be rescued from this,” he said.

One Bangladeshi man said he wanted to leave because foreigners were targeted daily and no longer wanted to live in fear.

“I want to leave South Africa and go to a peaceful country, we are not safe here,” he said.