Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

S.Korea refuses refugee status for 400 Yemenis

S.Korea refuses refugee status for 400 Yemenis

South Korea's Justice Ministry on Wednesday said it would not grant refugee status to almost 400 Yemenis, instead saying it would issue one-year humanitarian stays to 339 of them.

About 500 people from the conflict-plagued Middle Eastern state arrived on Jeju - an island with about 600,000 residents - earlier this year, taking advantage of the visa-free access it offers to encourage tourism.

Their arrivals triggered a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the South, where only around four per cent of the population are foreigners, mostly from China and Southeast Asia, and discrimination against migrant workers is widespread.

On June 1, the government also amended the Jeju visa exemption rules to exclude Yemenis.

The government says the Yemeni arrivals do not meet the criteria for refugee status, but will be allowed to stay for a year on humanitarian grounds. Of the remainder, 34 applications were rejected and another 85 postponed, according to Yonhap.

The 339 Yemenis granted temporary stays for humanitarian reasons will be allowed to leave Jeju Island for other parts of Korea.

The government would be able to monitor the whereabouts of the asylum seekers staying under the humanitarian permits, as they are mandated to report the residence to the respective provincial immigration offices, the Jeju Immigration Office added.

Ford: 350 More GT Supercars on the Way
Salenbauch says that building the carbon-fiber GT is very complicated, hence the low production volumes. The added production may indeed make new dreams come true for buyers, but only for a select few.

Protests have followed in Jeju and in the capital, Seoul, in which demonstrators called for deportation of the Yemenis, who are Muslims.

Nearly 70 years ago during a violent government crackdown on what they saw as a unsafe communist insurgency on Jeju, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 islanders fled to Japan, Baek said.

But other people are calling for an end to the hatred of refugees, and say they should be welcomed into South Korean society.

South Korea has one of the lowest refugee acceptance rates among OECD nations, at around 4 per cent, while other nations average around 25 per cent, according to Baek. "That kind of message gives the general public the impression that refugees are potential criminals".

"The judicial outcome appears to be a political decision rather than a legal conclusion based on objective principles", said Lee Il, a human rights lawyer with the Seoul-based Refugee Rights Network.

The refugee recognition system in Korea can be divided into two reviews and three trials: An applicant is reviewed first by a local immigration office; if he or she is refused refugee status recognition, the applicant can appeal the decision to the Justice Ministry; if the ministry upholds the rejection, an asylum seeker can bring the case to a court and get a total of three trials, including appeals.

Like this: