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Nepal: UN protests Tibetans’ deportation to China

Nepal: UN protests Tibetans’ deportation to China

Calling it a blatant violation of Nepal's obligations under international law, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today expressed grave concern over the fate of 18 Tibetan asylum seekers deported to China despite urgent appeals from the agency and human rights groups not to expel them.

The 18 were part of a group of 21 Tibetans who arrived in Nepal in mid-April. Three children from the group were handed over to UNHCR, but despite numerous pleas the Nepalese authorities refused the agency access to the rest of the group. The group deported Saturday included eight unaccompanied minors, some as young as 13, the agency said.

On Friday, UNHCR sent an urgent letter to the Nepalese Prime Minister's office, urging the government not to send back the Tibetans and pointing out that such a move would represent an act of "refoulement" prohibited by international refugee law.

Until now, the Nepalese authorities had allowed UNHCR to screen Tibetan asylum seekers and resettle them in third countries in accordance with the UN refugee agency's mandate. The "refoulement" Saturday represents an alarming departure from that practice, UNHCR said.