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NHRCK Chairperson’s Statement on Welcoming the Transfer of the ‘People of Merit to the Country’ from Afghanistan to Korea
-Refugee protection is a pledge Korea made with the international community and an act of building universal value-
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea welcomes safe and prompt evacuation of the Afghans who have worked alongside the Korean government and expresses gratitude to those who carried out the mission on the ground to safely execute the plan to move the people in dire circumstances.
The Government of the Republic of Korea, in tragic times, transferred 378 ‘People of Merit to the Country’ who have cooperated with Korea from Kabul and granted special residence visa.
The Commission wishes the special measures the government took for the Afghans be smoothly executed to assist their settlement in Korea. The Commission also hopes there can be special care for children, including education and medical support, as nearly half of the Afghan refugees, 180 people out of 378, are children.
Should the Afghans already residing in Korea were to seek asylum to the Korean government, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea hopes that their current situation can be taken into consideration, though abiding by the established law is a priority.
The international community is taking various measures to respond to the human rights violation in Afghanistan. At the UN Human Rights Council’s special session on August 24, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed her deep concerns for human rights violations and abuses practiced in Afghanistan and called for the protection of Afghan women and girls' rights. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions(GANHRI) also issued a statement calling for the international community’s intervention.
The international community and the NGOs have continuously requested the Korean government to make changes in refugee policies due to the low rate of refugee recognition in Korea.
From the year 1994 to June 2021, 1,112 refugees were granted the refugee status out of 72,217 refugees who sought asylum in Korea, which means only 3% of the people were officially recognized as refugees.
Showing empathy and accepting those who were forced to flee their countries in hopes of living better lives where their rights are protected are pledges we, as the member of the international community, made. It is also an act of upholding universal value.
The Commission hopes the transfer of the people of merit to the country to Korea would become an important juncture to raise awareness on refugee issues in Korea and further enhance our national status as the country with ratified refugee convention and the first country in Asia to legislate the Refugee Act.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea will continue to monitor the ongoing situation of refugees in Korea and work to improve the rights of the refugees.