Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan attacked, UN human rights team says

A United Nations human rights team sent to investigate last month's violence in Uzbekistan reported that the security situation of over 400 refugees sheltered in a camp near the Kyrgyz city of Jalal Abad had greatly deteriorated following raids by a group of unidentified men.

The asylum-seekers were reportedly threatened with more attacks unless they returned to Uzbekistan within three days, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The four-person team from OHCHR came to interview Uzbeks who have fled to Kyrgyzstan and others with first-hand knowledge of the events of 12-14 May in the Uzbek city of Andijan, to gain insight into the circumstances of the clash between protesters and security forces in which hundreds died.

On 18 May High Commissioner Louise Arbour had called for an independent inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the incidents in Andijan, pointing to disturbing reports from the region that described indiscriminate and excessive use of force by law enforcement and imposition of restrictions on the media.

The 500 Uzbeks who sought refuge in Kyrgyzstan after the incident are in need of immediate protection, according to Ms. Arbour. She said they also need guarantees that they will not be returned prior to a full determination of their refugee status in line with international law, as has already been stressed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, most recently on 10 June.

The fact-finding team will report its finding and recommendations to the High Commissioner for Human Rights on its return to Geneva later this month.