UNHCR expresses gratitude to Romania for hosting Uzbek refugees

Press Releases, 28 July 2005

Thursday, 28 July 2005

GENEVA The UN refugee agency expresses its deep gratitude to the Government of Romania for its decision on Thursday to host a group of Uzbek refugees on a temporary basis. The refugees, currently in Kyrgyzstan, will remain in Romania only briefly before being moved to permanent resettlement countries.

"It is an extremely generous move on the part of the Romanian government, and a brave decision too," High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres said. "This profoundly humanitarian gesture is particularly significant as it comes when Romania is recovering from extensive flooding. My agency will take full responsibility for the well-being of the refugees and will ensure their stay is short."

Over the last two days, UNHCR airlifted all 426 refugees from Sasik camp near Jalal-Abad in western Kyrgyzstan to the capital Bishkek. Two chartered Yak-40's were used for the 10-flight operation. A plane has been on standby at Osh airport to transfer an additional group which has been in detention in Osh for the past two months. Negotiations are continuing with the Kyrgyz authorities concerning this group. UNHCR remains deeply concerned about the fate of these persons.

A Boeing-747, chartered by the International Organization for Migration, IOM, is scheduled to fly the Uzbek refugees from Bishkek to Timisoara in Romania in the early hours of Friday morning. A UNHCR team is already on the ground in Romania to assist the authorities and carry out further resettlement interviews. UNHCR will be working closely with several countries that are interested in welcoming the Uzbek refugees for permanent resettlement.