UNHCR office in Prague occupied by Chechens

Briefing Notes, 24 March 2000

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 24 March 2000, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A group of 21 Chechen asylum seekers are still in UNHCR's office in Prague, Czech Republic, nearly 48 hours after they entered the premises and refused to leave. They are a mixed group of men, women and children. They have behaved calmly without violence or hostility. They have not tried to prevent our staff or visiting Czech officials from leaving or entering the building. Some said they felt unsafe in the Czech collective centre for asylum seekers, others said they felt unsafe in the Czech Republic. Today we will interview all of them individually jointly with Czech asylum officials to determine what exactly their grievances are and work out a solution for them. The group originally comprised 23 people but two have since left. The asylum seekers have been supplied with food and water, diapers and baby food.