Xenophobia arrests in Cape Town


Around 100 people were arrested as part of an operation to disperse refugees and asylum seekers staging a prolonged sit-in near the United Nations refugee agency in Cape Town, South African police said.

The refugees and asylum seekers have been camping outside the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for weeks, asking to be moved out of South Africa, where they say they do not feel safe after a wave of xenophobic violence.

Local media showed footage of police firing water cannon into the crowd of protesters, some visibly distressed or with small children strapped to their backs and removing personal including clothes, sleeping bags and cooking equipment from the street.

SA Police Service (SAPS) said in a statement they moved in to evict around 300 people from the area in accordance with a court order.

“About a hundred people were arrested after they failed to heed the call to disperse,” the statement said, adding the UNHCR tried to resolve the impasse without success.

The refugees want to be repatriated to their home countries or moved elsewhere after deadly riots and attacks in September which killed at least 10 people and left many foreigners afraid to live in the country.

The violence targeted at African immigrant populations, sparked reprisal attacks, overshadowed a pan-African economic conference and drove a wedge between South Africa and other nations on the continent, including Nigeria.