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10. Department of State press statement on forcible return of Uzbek asylum seekers (March 21, 2006)


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Press Statement
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 21, 2006

United Nations Refugee Agency Ordered to Leave Uzbekistan

The United States condemns the Government of Uzbekistan’s decision to shut down offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We call on the Government of Uzbekistan to rescind this order and allow UNHCR to continue protecting and assisting refugees and asylum seekers in Uzbekistan.

We also remain concerned about the fate of approximately eighteen Uzbek asylum seekers that have been forcibly returned to Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. UNHCR has not been granted access to these individuals despite repeated requests, and the Government of Uzbekistan continues to pressure other governments in the region to forcibly return Uzbek asylum seekers to Uzbekistan.

We call on all governments in the region currently detaining Uzbek asylum seekers to refrain from forcibly returning them to Uzbekistan, and to recognize the right of such individuals to seek protection from persecution.

2006/292

Released on March 21, 2006

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