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UN Evacuates 11 Uzbeks From Kyrgyzstan

The Uzbek-Kyrgyz border was closed following the violence in mid-May, but hundreds of Uzbeks had already fled to Kyrgyzstan Bishkek, 16 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Eleven Uzbek refugees who fled their country after a violent confrontation between demonstrators and police in May have been evacuated from Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov told RFE/RL today that the 11 refugees had been released from detention in the southern city of Osh and handed over to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, in Bishkek.

"The UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] asked [us] and we transferred the refugees to them," Beknazarov said. "They themselves [the UNHCR] will deal with the Uzbek authorities in future."

Reuters today quoted an unidentified UN official as saying the refugees were then flown to London and will later be sent to Belgium, Finland, and the Netherlands.

Hundreds of Uzbeks fled to Kyrgyzstan after the Uzbek military cracked down on an uprising in the eastern Uzbek town of Andijon. Human rights activists have claimed that more than 700 people were killed. Uzbek authorities say the number of dead was under 200.

In July, Kyrgyz authorities ignored an Uzbek request to send the refugees back and allowed the United Nations to evacuate more than 400 refugees to Romania. Several others remain in detention at Uzbekistan's request.

[For more on the plight of the Uzbek refugees and the violence in Andijon, click here.]