China: concerns over deportation

Briefing Notes, 8 April 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 8 April 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR has been made aware of the deportation from China of a 17-year old unaccompanied refugee who was returned to his country of origin after being taken from his home in Beijing on 3 April 2008.

On this occasion as always in the past with similar cases, UNHCR has made it clear to China that any deportation of refugees must scrupulously observe the relevant articles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which the People's Republic of China is a party, and depending on the circumstances may well constitute a violation of the non-refoulement provision of the Convention.

The news of this and other deportations has created considerable anxiety among the refugees in Beijing who have told us they are feeling very intimidated by these activities.

From a security perspective UNHCR appreciates that particular vigilance is needed during this period of preparation for the 2008 Olympics. We are ready to discuss acceptable arrangements which are sensitive to these concerns but which preserve necessary conditions of protection for persons in need.

UNHCR currently takes care of about 180 refugees in mainland China. Most come from south-west Asia, the Middle East and Africa. China signed the 1951 Refugee Convention in 1982.