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Tajikistan And UN Agency Agree On Refugees Deal

Tajikistan and UN agency agree on deal to integrate Afghan refugees

2 April 2008 - About 1,000 Afghans who have been living in neighbouring Tajikistan for up to 20 years will be able to apply for permanent residency and citizenship under a cooperation agreement worked out by the United Nations refugee agency and the Tajik Government.

In a joint communiqué signed yesterday by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres and Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi, Tajikistan and the UN agency also announced a series of measures aimed at making the refugees more self-sufficient.

The two sides will jointly conduct training courses for the refugees and their children on professional and technical education and on Tajik- and Russian-language studies. UNHCR and international aid organizations will also work together to improve the schools and health-care facilities used by the refugees.

Mr. Guterres congratulated Tajikistan on the agreement, saying the country's people were showing a willingness to "extend their generosity to others who need protection."

The communiqué was signed on the first day of a four-day visit by the High Commissioner to Tajikistan, the first country in Central Asia to accede to both the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

Mr. Guterres held meetings with many senior Government figures, including Mr. Zarifi, President Emomali Rahmon, Labour and Social Protection Minister Shukurjon Zuhurov and Internal Affairs Minister Mahmadnazar Salikhov. He also talked with refugees and met the non-governmental organization (NGO) partners of UNHCR.

ENDS

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