Kyrgyzstan: Issue of 15 remaining Uzbeks yet to be resolved
We are continuing discussions with the Kyrgyz government on the release of 15 Uzbek nationals who fled the 12/13 May Andijan events in Uzbekistan and are currently in detention in Osh. The 15 remained behind in Kyrgyzstan after we airlifted 439 Uzbeks to Romania in late July as part of a humanitarian transfer. We had hoped the issue of the 15 would be resolved before the official swearing-in ceremony of the new President on Sunday, 14 August. However, the Kyrgyz authorities have reiterated, that the 15 will not be deported to Uzbekistan, which is our major concern.
Eleven of the 15 have already been accepted for resettlement by the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. However, all 15 are of concern to UNHCR as they have expressed fear of persecution if returned to Uzbekistan.
In June, four Uzbeks of concern to UNHCR, were unlawfully deported to Uzbekistan. Since then, neither UNHCR nor any other organisation or individual, has had access to these four. Earlier this week, the Uzbek authorities told UNHCR in a letter that the four were 'self-reported criminals' who had returned voluntarily and were now being held in a detention facility in Tashkent. UNHCR, has however not been able to visit or talk to them and as a result remains extremely concerned about their well-being.
Meanwhile, in Romania, the 439 Uzbeks who were transferred are undergoing resettlement interviews. We are also able to conduct more detailed interviews with the refugees - many of whom are traumatised by their recent experiences - and gain a clearer picture of the reasons for their flight to Kyrgyzstan.