DATE=1/13/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=UNHCR NORTH KOREA REFUGEES (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-258044 BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United Nations refugee agency, the U-N-H- C-R, says it is seriously concerned by China's decision to deport seven people to North Korea where they could face severe reprisals. Lisa Schlein says the Geneva-based agency has sent a letter to the Chinese government protesting the action. TEXT: Late last year, seven people, including a 13- year-old boy, fled North Korea across China into Russia. Last month, the U-N refugee agency recognized the seven North Koreans as refugees after they had arrived in Russia. The U-N-H-C-R's spokesman, Ron Redmond, says the agency informed both the Chinese and the Russian governments about its decision to grant them refugee status. He says the agency also told them it would try to resettle the group of North Korean refugees in a third country. Mr. Redmond says Russia ignored the agency's pleas and deported the seven to China on December 30. /// REDMOND ACT /// In Beijing, (the) U-N-H-C-R then appealed to the Chinese authorities not to send these people back to North Korea. But, this week, we were informed by the Chinese foreign ministry that they had indeed been sent back. They didn't say why they were deported or how it happened. But, we are gravely concerned by this Chinese decision to deport people whom we have recognized as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention. /// END ACT /// Mr. Redmond calls the Chinese action a violation of the 1951 convention. He says the convention is the cornerstone of international refugee law. And, that it clearly bans the forcible return of refugees to areas where they could face danger or persecution. Mr. Redmond says the U-N agency believes the seven refugees can face severe reprisals in North Korea. In a letter sent to the Chinese government, the U-N-H-C-R protested the violation of the 1951 convention and fundamental humanitarian principles. The agency also has urged the North Korean authorities to treat the seven deported refugees humanely. (Signed) NEB/LS/GE/JP 13-Jan-2000 12:01 PM EDT (13-Jan-2000 1701 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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