Refugees who had been protesting at the offices of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, are facing a charge of trespassing.

They have been camping outside the offices since 7 October, demanding to be sent to other countries because they fear xenophobic violence in South Africa.

A case of trespassing was opened on Thursday after a group, some of whom say they are asylum seekers, moved into the offices of the UN agency illegally.

On Wednesday, a court order had been granted instructing the refugees to vacate the area within three days.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told parliament that the refugees had refused to be taken to their countries of origin.

“They don’t want to go there, they want to go to another country and that is Canada, nothing more or less,” the minister said.

The refugees, who had been living on pavements and in makeshift tents numbering about 300, said they did not want to be reintegrated into local communities because they feared xenophobic attacks.

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