UNHCR and Partners Mark the 20th Anniversary of the Kyrgyz Republic’s Accession to the Refugee Convention

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Bishkek, 29 November 2016 – UNHCR organized a round table and reception to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the accession of the Kyrgyz Republic to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Many speakers recognized the progressive achievements made by the Kyrgyz Republic in protecting refugees and asylum seekers.

“Since our independence 25 years ago, UNHCR was the organization which always came to help us in the most difficult times.  This 20 years’ Anniversary is not about celebrating signing of a paper agreement, but to mark the history of practical, operational collaboration between UNHCR and the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Ms. Roza Otunbaeva, ex-President of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Ms. Dinara Kemelova, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, provided an overview of the twenty years of partnership with UNHCR in dealing with over 20,000 refugees, adopting the national legislation on refugees and building the national asylum system.

“We would like to thank the government and all partners, especially development partners who are increasingly supporting the refugees. I request relevant authorities to continue to find ways to support the rightful future of the refugees who are aspiring to become constructive members of this country,” said Ms. Maki Shinohara, UNHCR Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic.

“Very special thanks to interns and volunteers that worked closely with refugees.  We are learning a lot from this younger generation who instinctively and voluntarily extend their support to the refugees. This is the essence of humanitarian values and what makes us human.” 

UNHCR Office was opened in the Kyrgyz Republic in 1995, to support the government to deal with Tajik refugees. For two decades, the Office has enjoyed close collaboration with the Kyrgyz government, supporting the country to establish fair asylum institution and deal with waves of refugee influx from neighboring countries, as well as assisting the integration and reconciliation of people affected by violence in 2010. Throughout these years, former UN High Commissioners for Refugees Ms. Sadako Ogata and Mr. Antonio Guterres have visited the Kyrgyz Republic several times. UNHCR has provided over $62 million dollars-worth of assistance over the past 20 years to assist refugees, returnees, stateless and internally displaced people in the country.