Refugees from Myanmar arrive in S. Korea for resettlement

December 23, 2015
Refugees from Myanmar wave to reporters as they arrive at Incheon International Airport on Dec. 22, 2015 for resettlement. (Yonhap)

Refugees from Myanmar wave to reporters as they arrive at Incheon International Airport on Dec. 22, 2015 for resettlement. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — A total of 22 ethnic Karen refugees from Myanmar arrived in South Korea, officials said Wednesday, becoming the first beneficiaries of Seoul’s new resettlement program for refugees.

The refugees, four different families, had been staying at refugee camps in Thailand to avoid suppression in Myanmar before being allowed to fly to South Korea.

The refugees will be provided with F-2 residency visas, Justice Ministry officials said.

Education, among other reasons, led them to choose South Korea as their third country, they said.

South Korea introduced the refugee program earlier this year to accept up to 30 refugees from Myanmar every year until 2017 on a trial basis. It plans to decide whether to formally keep the refugee program after closely monitoring the situation.

The move came five months after South Korea signed a deal with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the resettlement of refugees staying at foreign refugee camps who are willing to transfer to another country.

Currently, South Korea begins screening refugees only after the application is filed in South Korea.

South Korea has so far granted refugee status to 531 people out of more than 13,800 asylum seekers since 1994 when South Korea began to accept applications from asylum seekers.

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