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Romanian President: Bucharest To Take Uzbek Refugees

President Basescu (file photo) Bucharest, 28 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Romanian President Traian Basescu said today that Romania will give temporary refuge to the roughly 400 Uzbek refugees who are currently in Kyrgyzstan.

Basescu made the announcement at a press conference in Bucharest. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) is still negotiating with several countries over the final relocation of the Uzbek refugees.

A spokeswoman for the Czech Interior Ministry, Radka Kovarova, told RFE/RL that the Czech Republic is one of the countries being considered as a possible host for some of the Uzbek refugees.

The refugees fled eastern Uzbekistan in May after an uprising and a military crackdown that ended in massive bloodshed. Kyrgyz acting Deputy Prime Minister Feliks Kulov today said that the fate of 29 of the Uzbek refugees, currently in detention in Osh at the request of Uzbek authorities, will be decided in accordance with the UN's refugee convention. The convention prohibits the forced return of refugees.

Uzbekistan wants Kyrgyzstan to hand over at least 12 of the 29, accusing them of criminal activities. The UN has a plane in Osh that is set to take the refugees to Romania.

(Interfax, Reuters, AFP, RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service)