Thursday, October 27, 2005

Asian refugees seek asylum in Kosovo

Koha Ditore, in a front-page headline reports that a group of 19 Asian immigrants
have sought asylum in Kosovo after the airport police detained them.
According to the paper the immigrants arrived on a flight from Istanbul and
immediately after that asked the border police for asylum. The police referred the
matter to UNHCR in Pristina.
Koha says that UNHCR authorities have not yet decided on the status of these persons
as, among other difficulties they have not yet been able to find translators. “It is the
first time we are dealing with asylum seekers in Kosovo, we aren’t used to handle
such cases,” Helvise Gallet, protection officer of UNHCR reportedly told Koha.
According to the paper, asylum seekers should wait until the authorities of UNMIK
Pillar II find a way to process their demands. UNHCR authorities have provided
asylum seekers with accommodation but they are still unsure of the legal bases for
proceeding with other action, says Koha.
The paper says UNMIK Regulation 2005/16 does not regulate the issue of asylum
seekers, but anticipates that refugees could be granted a short permission of stay in
Kosovo until their fate is clarified.
The paper recalls that in August, the police in Northern Mitrovica arrested four
immigrants and three Pakistani police officers under suspicion of involvement in the
lucrative business of transferring immigrants from Kosovo but they were released
later due to lack of evidence.
Lajm reports that the immigrants tore their passports once they arrived in Pristina to
avoid returning to their countries of origin. According to the paper, one of the
immigrants was arrested as during the inquiry he assaulted the UNMIK border police
commander. The KPS Spokesperson admitted that the asylum seekers are being kept
in the Airport and said one of them behaved “aggressively”, says the paper.
The paper quotes Gallet as saying that these persons would be granted permission to
stay if UNHCR finds that they were persecuted in their countries of origin. According
to Gallet, UNHCR will act in accordance with the Geneva Convention, independent of
whether they possess identification documents or not.F.F
Koha, Lajm

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