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Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan (file photo)
27 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations is seeking a new asylum for Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan, Assistant UN High Commissioner for Refugees Kamel Morjane said in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek today. He said the UN is trying to send the refugees to third countries as soon as possible.
Morjane said talks are being held on the subject with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
Morjane said Kyrgyzstan has assured the UN that none of the refugees will be sent back to Uzbekistan forcibly.
"[Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev] confirmed that nobody will be sent back forcibly. Of course, we will have to see the results of the [refugee] status determination. It is clear that refugees who will be recognized as such will not be sent back. This is the assurance I got from the president as well as from other officials," Morjane said.
Morjane said the UN is seeking third countries for the refugees because the UN could not ensure the safety of the refugees if they were sent home.
Last month, some 500 Uzbeks fled into Kyrgyzstan after a government crackdown in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon, in which an undetermined number of people were killed.
Uzbek authorities say over 170 people were killed. Rights advocates say at least 500 people were killed, or more.
(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service/ITAR-TASS/AP)See also:
Kyrgyz Prosecutor To Send 29 Uzbek Refugees Home
For more on these events, see RFE/RL's dedicated webpage: Unrest in Uzbekistan