UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva that the agency had received confirmation that the five people were expelled on 22 August – even though they were recognized in Turkey by UNHCR under its mandate. The Iranians were sent to the Iraqi city of Erbil, where they spent almost a month in detention. The refugees have just been released. “UNHCR is concerned that no due process of law was followed prior to the expulsion and that UNHCR was not given any prior information of the authorities’ intention to expel these persons or of the expulsion itself,” Mr. Redmond said. “To forcibly send persons to Iraq’s northern governorates if they do not originate from there is contrary to UNHCR’s guidelines. The security situation in northern Iraq, although relatively calm compared to the rest of Iraq, is still tense and unpredictable.” Mr. Redmond added that unless sufficient safeguards are taken, the expulsion of refugees under the mandate of UNHCR may breach the principle of non-refoulement, which is enshrined in the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. Non-refoulement refers to the right of a refugee or asylum-seeker whose case has not yet been fully assessed to not be sent to a country where his or her life or liberty could be at risk. 21 September 2007The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that it has raised serious concerns with the Turkish Government about its expulsion last month of five Iranians to northern Iraq.
The bid for funds “comes amid increasing concern over the condition of tens of thousands of displaced Liberians and Sierra Leonean refugees caught up in the conflict,” said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond. “It also follows the arrival of more than 76,000 fresh Liberian refugees in neighbouring countries since the beginning of this year – an exodus that is continuing.”The agency hopes to use the funding to help up to 100,000 Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. The emergency appeal will cover a variety of needs, including rehabilitation and construction of camps, domestic needs, transport and logistics, water, sanitation, health and nutrition, and protection monitoring.”A quick response to this new $10.4 million appeal is absolutely crucial if we’re to help the new Liberian refugees,” said Mr. Redmond. “The needs are enormous in a region already struggling to cope.”In addition to seeking financial resources, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers has issued an urgent plea for humanitarian access to, and safe passage for, tens of thousands of refugees and Liberian civilians displaced by the renewed fighting in Liberia. The agency is calling particular attention to the plight of thousands of refugees who fled Sinje camp on 20 June following an attack by rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).