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More North Korean defectors rejected for asylum in Europe

A report from a human rights group found an overwhelming number of North Korea asylum cases were rejected in Britain and the Netherlands.

By
Elizabeth Shim
A North Korean sheep herder watches his flock near the North Korean city of Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Many North Korean defectors flee the country by crossing into China. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
A North Korean sheep herder watches his flock near the North Korean city of Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Many North Korean defectors flee the country by crossing into China. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

LONDON, June 16 (UPI) -- North Korean defectors have recently encountered a higher rate of rejection when seeking asylum in Europe, according to a human rights group.

In its recently issued "European Asylum Policy and North Korea Refugees" report, the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea, or EAHRNK, said, "Within Europe, it has become increasingly difficult for North Korean asylum seekers to secure refuge," Radio Free Asia reported.

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Drawing from the most recent statistics, the report pointed out that in 2014, of the 23 North Korea asylum cases registered in Britain, an overwhelming majority, or 17, was rejected. Similarly, Britain rejected 30 of 40 asylum cases in 2013.

While the rate of rejection was similar in the two consecutive years, Yonhap reported the total number of cases was significantly reduced.

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In the Netherlands, the contrast was starker, South Korean television network SBS reported.

The total number of North Korea asylum cases skyrocketed between 2012 and 2013, from 29 to 140. In 2012, most applicants were granted refugee status, but by 2013 the tide had turned, when 128 out of a total of 140 cases were rejected.

Rejections were similarly high in neighboring Belgium, where authorities rejected 99 out of 126 North Korea refugee applicants.

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North Koreans fared better in France and Sweden, where in each country only 5 out of a total of 19 applications were given the red light.

The EAHRNK's Billy Davis said EU nations are vacillating between being flexible and rigid, and their policy toward admitting North Korean defectors is not stable, according to Yonhap.

Davis said laws should remain fair to North Korean defectors, with equal treatment and consideration of their applications guaranteed.

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Yonhap reported North Koreans who had already attained South Korean citizenship have previously been apprehended, and that Canada and Britain scrutinize applications to check whether the applicant held a South Korean passport.

EAHRNK said in its report, "Though a minority of North Koreans that are awarded [South Korea] citizenship face great difficulties in South Korea, including social prejudice, unemployment, debt, and problems associated with physical and mental health, these issues do not constitute the well-founded fear of persecution that is required for refugee protection under international law."

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