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UNHCR warns against deportation of Algerian asylum-seekers

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UNHCR warns against deportation of Algerian asylum-seekers

18 September 1997

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees today warned against the hasty deportation of rejected Algerian asylum-seekers in the midst of an upsurge of violence in Algeria.

UNHCR is particularly concerned about the forcible return of rejected Algerian asylum-seekers from European countries in recent months.

"We recognize that not all asylum-seekers from Algeria have legitimate claims to asylum," said Dennis McNamara, UNHCR's director of international protection. "However, we consider that a significant number of those currently fleeing Algeria are in genuine need of international protection."

There has been a very low level of acknowledgement paid by some European countries particularly to the protection needs of these Algerians. Last year, of the 5,950 Algerian asylum applicants in 14 European countries, Canada and the United States, only 670 were approved for a low acceptance rating of eight percent.

Violence and terrorism have been on the rise since the last quarter of 1996. Political assassinations and car bomb attacks have claimed many lives in Algeria particularly in recent months.

Under the current situation, UNHCR believes that certain groups of asylum-seekers could face serious security problems if returned to Algeria at this time.

Algerians who have close links with the government, members of the country's security forces and the judiciary, intellectuals, artists, and journalists seen as supporting a secular government need special consideration in the asylum countries. Also at risk are women viewed as transgressing moral or religious values and members or perceived members of Islamic groups.

UNHCR believes these people should benefit from international protection and strongly appeals to governments not to deport Algerian asylum-seekers without due consideration of the security risk they may face if they returned to Algeria at this time.