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UN Concerned About Uzbek Pressure On Kyrgyzstan

Uzbeks in Osh, Kyrgyzstan awaiting transfer to a third country 27 July 2005 -- The United Nations human rights chief expressed today "extreme concern" that Uzbek officials are operating in Kyrgyzstan, pressuring local authorities to hand over refugees.

Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, praised Kyrgyzstan for resisting Uzbek pressure. Earlier, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said 455 Uzbek refugees were being flown from camps in Jalal-Abad and Osh to Bishkek, where they will await further transfer.

Speaking to journalists in Bishkek, the head of the Kyrgyz office of the UNHCR, Carlos Zaccagnini, denied to give details of the operation.

"The country of destination does not wish this to be disclosed at this time, and they have very good reasons and so I think we should respect that given the very complex situation that we are living in with this crisis. It is only a matter of good sense that this not be disclosed at the moment. You will, soon enough and all your [listeners] will soon enough, learn that."

Hundreds of Uzbek refugees fled Uzbekistan in May following an uprising and a military crackdown in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon in which scores were killed.

Uzbekistan has called on Kyrgyzstan to hand over 12 of 29 refugees being detained by Kyrgyzstan. (AFP/Reuters/AP)

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