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New human rights chief meets Egyptian asylum seekers on hunger strike

2018/09/13 17:10

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SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- Choi Young-ae, new commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, said on Thursday that she will find solutions for a group of three Egyptians on a hunger strike in Seoul to seek refugee status.

Choi, who took office early this month, made the remarks while meeting with the Egyptian asylum seekers in her first onsite visit.

The three Egyptians have been on a hunger strike for 26 days, 28 days and 15 days, respectively, in front of a community policing center near the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, demanding that the South Korean government give them asylum and take measures against anti-refugee sentiment in the nation.

Choi Young-ae, new commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, meets with Egyptian asylum seekers on a hunger strike in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2018. (Yonhap) Choi Young-ae, new commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, meets with Egyptian asylum seekers on a hunger strike in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2018. (Yonhap)

Choi told the Egyptians that she has a deep interest in the refugee issue and is thinking about how Korean society should treat the refugees and about the government's responsibility for them.

She then asked the Egyptians to end their hunger strike, saying, "The biggest reason I came here is my concern about the health of refugees."

   "Refugees in South Korea have only recently become a social issue. Our society is learning and growing now, and I think South Korea will respond based on its international status in the future," Choi said.

A commission official who accompanied Choi on the visit explained that the new commissioner met with the Egyptians because she believed that the time has come for our society to embrace the problem of refugees.

"The human rights commission is interested in this issue and has been urging the Ministry of Justice to handle the screening of asylum applications fairly and swiftly," the official said.

ycm@yna.co.kr

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