The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday urged a peaceful resolution of protest in its Pretoria compound.

This came after some 150 foreign nationals, involving in a protest since October 8 outside UNHCR’s office in Pretoria, forced their way into the compound earlier in the day.

“The majority of our staff were safely evacuated out of the building,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

The group may include refugees and asylum-seekers, according to UNHCR.

UNHCR is engaged in a dialogue with the protesters, urging them to avoid any act of violence, vacate the premises and contribute to finding viable solutions, the statement said.

Groups of foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum seekers, have been protesting outside UNHCR offices in Pretoria and Cape Town for more than a month to highlight their plight.

The protesters say they are seeking protection and want UNHCR to relocate them to a safer country.

The protests were sparked by xenophobic attacks in September in some parts of South Africa, during which at least 12 people were killed. South Africa has deported thousands of illegal immigrants following the new spate of xenophobic attacks.

The Pretoria High Court issued an order on November 13, giving the protesters three days to vocate all occupied public areas, where UNHCR has its offices.

The court also ordered local authorities to identify the foreign protesters camped outside the UNHCR offices in Pretoria and Cape Town and to determine who among them is legally authorized to remain in South Africa.

UNHCR has repeatedly pledged commitment to working together with the South African government to find a peaceful resolution of the situation through continued constructive dialogue with the protesters.

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


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