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 Full text 
Thursday, 24 May 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Situation of North Korean refugees (debate)

  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE).(FI) Mr President, the situation regarding North Korean refugees is very serious in humanitarian terms. There is hunger there, and for many this has meant that the only chance of survival is to go elsewhere. The North Korean Government should respond promptly to the food shortage, especially now that much of the foreign food aid has stopped as a consequence of the controversial guided missile that was launched.

Refugees arriving from North Korea must also be treated as asylum seekers in other countries. They should be offered safe transit, and they cannot be expelled under the international Refugee Convention. Another serious problem is that if they are caught at the border, in most cases it means deportation, resulting in their being sent to a prison camp or receiving the death penalty, if, that is, the defectors are not shot at the border. Furthermore, almost without exception, their relatives who stay behind in the country are fiercely interrogated or even sent to prison camps themselves.

We are grateful to China for taking an internal decision to end the expulsions, but we would also ask China to dissolve its separate agreement with North Korea on the return of refugees. I hope that the matter will be raised in the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue.

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