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Kyrgyzstan: concerns over disappearances of Uzbek asylum seekers

Briefing notes

Kyrgyzstan: concerns over disappearances of Uzbek asylum seekers

25 August 2006 Also available in:

UNHCR is gravely concerned over the fate of five Uzbek asylum seekers who have disappeared in recent weeks in the southern Kyrgyzstan town of Osh.

The first Uzbek asylum seeker went missing in Osh on July 10. Despite repeated inquiries, UNHCR has received no information from the Kyrgyz authorities on his whereabouts. In the past ten days, four more Uzbek asylum seekers disappeared. All of them were registered with the Kyrgyz migration authorities and UNHCR. They were among the hundreds of Uzbeks who escaped their country in the aftermath of the Andijan events on May 13, 2005.

In two separate incidents on August 16 and 17, two of the asylum seekers were seen being forced into private cars by unknown men wearing civilian clothes who then drove them away to unknown destinations. We have received credible information that at least two of the abducted asylum seekers are currently in police custody in Andijan, Uzbekistan.

These repeated disappearances raise serious concerns regarding the security of asylum seekers in the Osh and Jalalabad regions of Kyrgyzstan.

In addition, UNHCR still has no news about another group of four refugees and one asylum seeker who were extradited to Uzbekistan on August 9.

We are also very concerned over repeated incidents involving Kyrgyz police and migration personnel harassing asylum seekers during document checks, including alleged verbal abuse and threats of forcible return to Uzbekistan.

We have shared our concerns with the Kyrgyz Ministry of Internal Affairs as well as with other relevant authorities, but we have seen no improvement to date.

UNHCR regrets the obvious erosion of the Kyrgyz asylum system, which until recently was an exemplary one in Central Asia.