The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) pledged on Wednesday to work with the South African government in providing protection to refugees.
The UNHCR "is working closely with the South African authorities to continue providing protection through the issuance of appropriate identity documentation, to facilitate access to health care, education and employment opportunities for all refugees and asylum seekers," the agency said in a statement.
Dozens of people camp in a corridor close to the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on October 9, 2019 in Cape Town, demanding to be removed from South Africa saying they were no longer safe. [Photo: AFP]
The UNHCR made the pledge after some refugees and asylum seekers, including women and children, have been gathering in front of UNHCR offices in Cape Town and Pretoria since Tuesday.
They accused the South African government of ignoring their plight, not only in Johannesburg where recent xenophobic attacks occurred but also in Cape Town.
In Cape Town, the refugees, mostly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Nigeria, Somalia and Pakistan, asked the UNHCR to help them leave South Africa.
"We acknowledge the issues they raised, including employment and self-reliance, documentation, and personal security concerns," the agency said.
"We are grateful to the South African government for the on-going collaboration with UNHCR in the provision of international protection to those in need as well as finding immediate and long-term solutions for refugees and asylum seekers - most living in host communities who also face many socio-economic challenges," the UNHCR said.
Also on Wednesday, the South African government said it remains resolute to the peaceful dialogue as the first option of resolving any form of dispute with refugees.
The government reiterated its commitment to building a society based on democratic values of social justice, human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism and the advancement of human rights.