UNHCR in talks with refugees after they forced their way onto its premises

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has engaged in talks with refugees who forced their way into its offices in Pretoria. 

The refugees, who have been staging a sit-in protest outside the UNHCR's offices since October, scaled walls and fences to seek refuge on the property. 

This after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered on Wednesday that they should disperse and vacate the area. 

The court gave the refugees three days to disperse following the order being served on them, which the Sheriff of the High Court executed on Thursday afternoon. 

In a statement, the UNHCR called for the peaceful resolution of the protest in its Pretoria compound. 

"The 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," its spokesperson, Helene Caux, said. 

"The UNHCR remains committed to working together with the government to find a peaceful resolution of the situation through continued constructive dialogue with the protesters."

While the UNHCR was engaged in talks, a case of trespassing had been opened and the police were on the scene. 

News24 previously reported the police were called in after the refugees had scaled the walls of the UNHCR's offices and started setting up camp inside the premises. 

By Thursday afternoon, police management had been engaging with the refugees to find an amicable solution that would see them leaving the property peacefully. 

It is also understood the police first need to obtain a letter and permission from the UNHCR before they can enter the property to remove them. 

The refugees, who have been living on the pavements in tents and makeshift structures outside the offices since the beginning of October, are asking to be resettled in another country as they fear possible xenophobic attacks.

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