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A refugee shouts at police after they were evicted from a sit in protest against xenophobia outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Cape Town, South Africa, October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

South African police on Wednesday arrested about 100 foreign nationals occupying an office building in Cape Town as part of a sit-in protest against xenophobia.

Hundreds of asylum-seekers have been camping at U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) offices in Pretoria and Cape Town since Oct. 8. The sit-in overflowed into the building housing the U.N.'s Cape Town office, prompting the landlord to successfully apply for their eviction.

"About 100 people have been arrested after they failed to heed the call to disperse," the police said in a statement. "Police are ... executing a court order to evict about 300 refugees and asylum-seekers who have been occupying the building."

Relocation sought

The foreigners, mainly from other African nations, say they are fed up with experiencing poor treatment and discrimination. They have asked the United Nations to relocate them to another country, claiming they no longer feel safe in South Africa after a surge of xenophobic attacks last month.

Clashes broke out with the police as protesters refused to move from the Waldorf Arcade, a 12-story block of offices in Cape Town's central business district. They banged on pots and plastic bottles, chanting "xenophobia government" and "police xenophobia."

"South Africa you [are] killing refugees," said a slogan painted on a white banner.

Police fired water guns and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

The situation became more subdued after the arrests. Waldorf Arcade was cordoned off and protesters started moving their belongings to a nearby church.

'Peaceful resolution'

The U.N. called on the protesters to "respect the laws" and "return peacefully to their residences."

"UNHCR has been engaging with the refugees and asylum-seekers since the onset of the protests," the agency said in a statement, adding that resettlement was "only available for a limited number of very vulnerable refugees."

Instead, the agency encouraged asylum-seekers to "participate in constructive dialogue" and find "peaceful resolution."

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

Progressive policies

The country boasts some of the world's most progressive asylum policies, allowing foreigners to apply for refugee status within the country itself and to work during the process.

But the U.N. has voiced concern about the more than 50,000 pending asylum claims, the largest number in sub-Saharan Africa.

Rights groups say the number of people granted refugee status has remained unchanged for the past decade, suggesting an intentional culling of foreign national acceptance.

As the continent's most industrialized economy, South Africa is also a magnet for migrants seeking better jobs.

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

Xenophobic violence left at least 62 dead in 2008. 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.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, center, is followed by members of the media as she leaves the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 31, 2019.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to open a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Here are some of the comments from lawmakers who supported and opposed the investigation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called for the inquiry to be approved:

"The times have found each and every one of us in this room. This is not any cause for any glee or comfort. What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy."

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a Trump supporter:

"Trying to put a ribbon on this sham process doesn't make it any less of a sham. We are less than 13 months before the next election. Americans understand that this is unfair. ... They instinctively know this is [an] unfair and partisan process."

Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who opposed the investigation:

"This is the moment that history will write. ... What do you believe the definition of due process is? What do you think the First Amendment is [guaranteeing free speech]? This House is so much better than what is transforming today. ... We believe and know we can do better. I guess it's only fitting we take this vote on Halloween."

Congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, supporting the Trump investigation:

"The facts are clear: The White House launched a shadow foreign policy that circumvented and undermined our normal diplomatic channels. A distinguished career ambassador was publicly smeared and pushed aside. Critical military aid for Ukraine — a valued partner locked in a life-or-death struggle against Russia — was blocked.

"The goal? ... To pressure a foreign government to interfere in our 2020 elections. ...

"The president's own words say it best — from the record of the call with [Ukraine] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskiy as he sought the tools to push back against Russia. Mr. Trump's answer? 'I'd like you to do us a favor though.'"

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