China: UN agency seeks access to 48 asylum seekers from DPR of Korea

21 January 2003

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked the Government of China for access to a group of 48 asylum seekers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) arrested on Saturday.

According to a UNHCR spokesman, the group, which includes children, was apprehended when it tried to board fishing boats in the port of Yantai, Shandong Province. “UNHCR is ready to assess the asylum claims of the group jointly with the Chinese authorities,” Ron Redmond said today in Geneva.

In a note verbale sent today to the Chinese authorities in Beijing, UNHCR also urged China not to send the Koreans back to their country. "The [UNHCR] office would furthermore be grateful to receive the government's assurances, as a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, that the protection and humanitarian needs of these asylum seekers are met and in particular that they are not refouled to their country of origin," the note said.

 

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