Nth Koreans take refuge in German school

23rd February 2004, Comments 0 comments

23 February 2004 , BEIJING - Eight people who said they were North Korean asylum seekers entered a German embassy school compound in Beijing on Monday, two days before sensitive talks on North Korea's nuclear programme are scheduled to begin in the Chinese capital. "I can confirm that eight North Korean people are now on the territory of the German school in Beijing," a German embassy spokesman said. Officials were trying to verify the identities of the group, who said they were all North Korean, the spoke

23 February 2004

BEIJING - Eight people who said they were North Korean asylum seekers entered a German embassy school compound in Beijing on Monday, two days before sensitive talks on North Korea's nuclear programme are scheduled to begin in the Chinese capital.

"I can confirm that eight North Korean people are now on the territory of the German school in Beijing," a German embassy spokesman said.

Officials were trying to verify the identities of the group, who said they were all North Korean, the spokesman said.

The officials were in "close contact and negotiations" with Chinese officials over the asylum seekers, he said. "We are trying to find a quick solution to this case."

He declined to give further details, but a witness said the group included at least one woman.

The witness said the asylum seekers took refuge on an upper floor of an apartment building inside the school compound. The apartment building houses German embassy staff.

China has allowed at least 200 North Koreans to leave China after they entered diplomatic premises, including the German school compound, in the last two years.

The refugees are normally allowed to leave for South Korea via a third country such as the Philippines.

According to observer estimates, up to 300,000 North Koreans live in China illegally to escape hunger and prosecution in North Korea. They are not recognized as refugees by Beijing and, if caught, are deported back to North Korea.

DPA
Subject: German news

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