Sudden expulsion of Iranian refugees from Turkey alarms UN agency

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. read more