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At least N. Korean 100,000 Refugees Are in China

Posted May. 30, 2003 22:00,   


China forcibly returned tens of thousands of North Korean refugees back to labor camps, for torture, and even execution in North Korea, the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) announced on May 29.

The USCR, a non-governmental organization, held a press conference on the released 2003 the ‘World Refugee Survey 2003,’ an annual report published by USCR with the National Press Club in Washington the same day, and said the following.

“Besides the tens of thousands of North Korean refugees who returned to North Korea by force, it`s estimated that there are at least 100,000 North Korean refugees hiding in China. The refugees, however, have not been able to approach the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR),” said Merrill Smith, chief editor of the report.

“North Korean defectors in China, if arrested, are forcibly sent to detention facilities in North Korea right after the arrest and some are even executed. The death penalty applies when the defector, while in China, had contact with secretly operating non-governmental organizations, and in particular, when had contact with Christian organizations or foreigners,” said USCR Asian Region Analyst Jana Mason.

“What we most recently noticed is that the Chinese government is closely cooperating with the North Korean government in forcibly returning the defectors to North Korea. Some non-governmental organizations claim that the total number of the North Korean refugees in China is about 200,000 to 300,000 but it is hard to say the exact figure as the defectors are in hiding,” Mason said.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) is a public information and advocacy program of Immigration and Refugee Services of America (IRSA), a nongovernmental organization founded in 1911. The USCR has published surveys on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers worldwide.