Belgium "to grant Chechen refugees political asylum"

Brussels (dpa) - Belgium is to grant Chechen war refugees political asylum, Belgian Commissioner for Refugees Pascal Smet was quoted Wednesday as saying.

He told De Standaard daily: "The war in Chechnya has reached such dimensions that it would be inhuman to send them back."

Belgium had so far granted Chechen nationals political asylum only in exceptional cases. The country had no protective statute for war refugees, unlike neighbouring countries. At least 2,000 Chechen refugees are already living in Belgium, authorities said. dpa ff pb sc

AP-NY-06-25-03 0501EDT


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