South African police arrested 100 people on Wednesday in an operation to evict a group of refugees and asylum seekers who had organized a long meeting near the UN refugee agency in Cape Town.
Refugees and asylum seekers stay in front of UNHCR for weeks.
They were asking to be moved out of South Africa, where they said they did not feel safe after a wave of xenophobic violence.
Local media showed footage of police firing water cannon into the crowd of protesters, some of whom were visibly distressed or had small children strapped to their backs, and removing personal items like clothes, sleeping bags and cooking equipment from the street.
The South African 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 one hundred people have been arrested after they failed to heed the call to disperse,” the police said.
The police added that the UNHCR had tried to resolve the impasse without success.
The refugees want to be repatriated to their home countries or moved elsewhere after a spate of deadly riots and attacks in September, which killed at least 10 people and left many foreigners afraid to live in the country.
Violence against African immigrant populations triggered repressive attacks, overshadowed the Pan African Economic Conference in Cape Town, and triggered disputes between South Africa and other continental countries, including another major economy, Nigeria.
Hundreds of people were arrested during the violence in South Africa.