Hundreds of foreign nationals on Wednesday took to the streets of Cape
Town, demanding to be relocated from South Africa after camping at the
UN refugee agency offices for a week, Agence France Presse reports.

The foreigners, many of whom described themselves as asylum-seekers,
say they no longer feel safe in South Africa after a surge of
xenophobic attacks last month.

"Save lives of refugees before it is too late," said one slogan,
painted in green on a white banner.

Many of the protesters have been camping at the offices of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town since
October 9, vowing not to leave the premises until the agency addressed
their concerns.

The numbers had grown steadily over the past week, spilling out from
corridors to the kerb outside the building.

"We marched to parliament for the government to hear us and to send a
loud and clear message," said Sylvia Nahimana, a group representative
from Burundi.

"We have been negotiating with them since 2008 but the killing still goes on."

Xenophobic violence left at least 62 dead that year. Seven people were
killed in 2015 and 12 died in the latest spate of attacks this year --
most of them South African. The incidents occurred mainly in the
Johannesburg area.

The continent's most industrialized economy is a magnet for migrants
searching for better job prospects and asylum seekers looking for
safety.

The country attracts people from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Others come from farther afield including the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, and South Asian countries.

Seen as competing with locals for jobs, they are often the first to
come under fire when South Africa's chronic unemployment and
inequality boils into resentment.

"We aren´t safe here and we aren´t safe in Bangladesh either," said
Hafeez Mohamed, a political dissident who sought refuge in South
Africa's Northern Cape province, where he saw his grocery store burned
down.

"They treat us like chickens and we don´t want to be chickens here anymore."

The protest broke out following a visit by the UNHCR chief.

"Preserving fair and efficient asylum systems are vital," said Filippo
Grandi in a statement on Wednesday.

"But to function effectively, they must be accompanied by safe,
regular migration channels and other stay arrangements."

But Grandi noted that resettlement to third countries was a "very
limited option for refugees worldwide", as the number of resettlement
places was dropping.

South Africa is home to 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers, according
to government statistics. They are mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia,
Zimbabwe, and the DRC.

But the exact number of foreign nationals is unknown as the majority
are undocumented.

"South Africa isn´t better than the home countries we fled," said
Congolese Jean-Pierre Balus at the scene.

"We want to go somewhere out children have a future, where we aren´t
segregated."

"There is no future for us here," he added.

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