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UN's Top Refugee Official Heads To Central Asia


UN's top refugee official heads to Central Asia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees heads this weekend to Central Asia, where his agency is working to bring asylum procedures in line with international standards.

António Guterres will be in the Kyrgyz Republic for three days starting on 11 November to open the first refugee reception centre in Central Asia.

Kyrgyzstan hosts several hundred refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). The High Commissioner is expected to meet President Kurmanbek Bakiev to thank the Government for naturalizing some 9,000 refugees from Tajikistan, according to an agency spokesperson.

From 13 to 15 November, Mr. Guterres will be in Kazakhstan, where he is expected to meet President Nursultan Nazarbayev and to discuss the drafting of national refugee legislation.

There are some 3,700 Chechens from the Russian Federation and several hundred people from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and China who are of concern to UNHCR in the country.

"The High Commissioner plans to visit UNHCR's operations in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in spring 2008," a spokesman for UNHCR said today.

The agency's office in Uzbekistan was closed by the government in April 2006, "but UNHCR continues to seek solutions for some 1,200 refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, through the UN Development Programme (UNDP)," the spokesman added.

ENDS

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