UN rights chief urges Uzbekistan to keep borders open

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The UN human rights chief on Monday called on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing the violent unrest in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay "urged both Uzbekistan, which is already reported to have received tens of thousands of people fleeing the fighting, and Tajikistan to keep their borders open to anyone, irrespective of age or gender, who is in need of sanctuary," said her office in a statement.

Uzbekistan earlier Monday ordered its frontier closed to a mass exodus of mainly ethnic Uzbeks fleeing clashes between rival groups in Kyrgyzstan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that 80,000 people have already fled into Uzbekistan, while another 15,000 were waiting at the Kyrgyz border to cross over earlier Monday.

© 2010 AFP

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