South African police remove refugees from UNHCR premises


South African police on Friday evicted refugees who have been occupying the premises of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) offices in Pretoria.

About 500 refugees, among them are mothers and children, had been camping outside the offices since October 7, saying the UN body must assist them to leave South Africa for other countries after migrant attacks in September.

North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday gave the foreign nationals three days to vacate the area. However, some of them entered the premises by jumping over the walls and gates, and then settled in the corridors and parking area on Thursday.

Government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said the refugees should comply with the court order.

“The protesters are prohibited from contravening the by-laws of the City of Tshwane and the laws of South Africa. The government urges the protesters to abide by the decision of the High Court,”she said.

Gauteng police spokesperson Mathapelo Peters said: “The police are here because a case of trespassing was opened and we are here to enforce the law based on that. We were told it’s over 500 people but we think it’s much more.”

The police visited the UNHCR office with the Social Development and Home Affairs Departments to “verify the status of their stay in the country and children and their mothers will be taken care of.”

Some of the refugees showed defiance, while others willingly got into the transport offered. At least four officers were injured after being struck with rocks. Enditem

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