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Canada in talks with UN on possibility to receive Uzbek refugees

MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - Canadian government officials are holding talks with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on accepting Uzbek refugees, a source in the Canadian Embassy here said Wednesday.

"The UNHCR has asked countries that can receive refugees, including Canada, to resettle Uzbek refugees currently staying in Kyrgyzstan," the spokesman said. "Talks with the UNHCR are under way."

Kyrgyz authorities will move a total of 400 Uzbek refugees from Jalalabad, a Kyrgyz city bordering Uzbekistan, to a special field camp in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, for transportation to a third country in two days, Carlos Zaccagnini, the UN representative in Kyrgyzstan, said.

Zaccagnini did not specify which country the refugees would be moved to.

Reuters earlier quoted Nadirbek Mamyrov, the deputy head of the Kyrgyz Manas airport, as saying that some 400 Uzbek refugees would be delivered to Romania on board a Boeing-747 chartered by the UN.

However, the information was a surprise for the Romanian Embassy in Kazakhstan, which also represents the country's interests in Kyrgyzstan.

"We are hearing about this for the first time. We offered visas neither to Uzbek nor Kyrgyz nationals," Valery Stoiko, an aide to the Romanian ambassador, said via telephone.

Kyrgyzstan's AKI Press agency also said 451 Uzbek refugees would be transported to Romania from Manas Thursday evening.

The Fergana.ru Russian Internet site, which covers events in the Central Asian republics, reported that the refugees could be sent to Canada "as soon as today".

Several hundred Uzbeks fled to bordering Kyrgyzstan, where there is already a large Uzbek population, after the May 12-13 unrest in Andijan, a major Uzbek city in the Fergana Valley.

Kyrgyz authorities said the unrest was instigated by Islamic fundamentalists and led to 187 deaths, according to official data.

Journalists and human rights activists put the number at more than 500.

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