UN agency expresses concern over China’s deportation of young refugee

UN agency expresses concern over China’s deportation of young refugee

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed its concern over China’s deportation of a 17-year-old male refugee from Pakistan who was returned to his country of origin after being taken from his home in Beijing last week.

“The news of this and other deportations has created considerable anxiety among the refugees in Beijing who have told us they are feeling very intimidated by these activities,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva.

Ms. Pagonis said the agency has made it clear to Chinese authorities that any deportation of refugees must scrupulously observe the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which China is a party. Also, depending on the circumstances, such action may violate the treaty’s non-refoulement provision.

There had been 15 deportations in total from China this year of refugees from Iraq, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, according to the agency.

“From a security perspective UNHCR appreciates that particular vigilance is needed during this period of preparation for the 2008 Olympics,” stated Ms. Pagonis.

“We are ready to discuss acceptable arrangements which are sensitive to these concerns but which preserve necessary conditions of protection for persons in need,” she added.

UNHCR currently takes care of some 180 refugees – mostly from southwest Asia, the Middle East and Africa – in mainland China.