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Sunday 18 December 2005
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KYRGYZSTAN-UZBEKISTAN: Third country resettlement of Andijan 15 progresses

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


Hundreds of Uzbeks fled to neighbouring Kyrgyzstan

ANKARA , 10 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The case of more than a dozen Uzbeks who fled violence in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May and are currently being held in custody in southern Kyrgyzstan, now appears to be progressing. Even so, no final decision has yet been made as to their fate by the Kyrgyz authorities.

"We received a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, which says that three European countries, that is Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands, are ready to take all 15 Uzbeks held in custody in [the southern city of] Osh for resettlement," Sumar Nasiza, chief of office for Kyrgyzstan's prosecutor general, said from the capital Bishkek on Wednesday.

"We are now discussing the issue and the final decision is yet to be made," the Kyrgyz official added.

More than 500 Uzbeks fled across the border to Kyrgyzstan in May, following a violent crackdown on anti-government protests in Andijan, in which upwards of 1,000 unarmed civilians may have been killed, according to rights groups. The Uzbek government claimed the death toll to be 187.

Of the registered Uzbeks staying in Kyrgyzstan who received refugee status by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in late July, 439 were airlifted to Romania to await third country resettlement.

Another 15 had been held in custody since May pending consideration of an extradition request by Tashkent, of whom 11 were later designated UNHCR-mandated refugee status.

According to the prosecutor general's office, the four remaining appealed against the decision by the Kyrgyz migration department, which had denied them refugee status. The appeal is to be considered by a Bishkek court on Thursday.

"We cannot make any decision regarding these people for the time being and need to await the court's verdict on their case," Nasiza explained.

But Azimbek Beknazarov, Kyrgyzstan's prosecutor general, reportedly said on Friday that they would hand over the Uzbeks held in detention to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) if a third country accepted them as refugees.

Officials from the UNHCR mission in Kyrgyzstan had left for Europe to secure consent from the recipient countries to accept the Uzbek citizens within 10 days, he explained.

"If no country accepts the Uzbek citizens as refugees, then Kyrgyzstan, in compliance with international norms, will have to extradite them to Uzbekistan," the Kyrgyz national news agency Kabar quoted Beknazarov as saying.

One week earlier, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) expressed grave concern for the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees and urged Bishkek not to extradite them, reminding the Kyrgyz government that it is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and any extradition would be violating its international commitments.


 Theme(s) Refugees IDPs
Other recent KYRGYZSTAN-UZBEKISTAN reports:

Court overturns denial of refugee status to Uzbeks,  18/Aug/05

Focus on Andijan asylum seekers,  5/Jul/05

UNHCR official urges Bishkek to honour refugee commitments,  27/Jun/05

More Uzbek asylum seekers may be deported,  23/Jun/05

Pressure on Uzbek asylum seekers continues,  16/Jun/05

Other recent Refugees IDPs reports:

PAKISTAN: Acute respiratory infections increasing among quake survivors, 16/Dec/05

MIDDLE EAST: Appeal to Arab world to give more to world’s poorest, 16/Dec/05

WEST AFRICA: IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 308 covering 10-16 December 2005, 16/Dec/05

BURUNDI: Demonstration ends in front of UNHCR headquarters, 16/Dec/05

KENYA: EC gives €2 million for victims of ethnic clashes, 16/Dec/05

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