U.S. takes 101 North Korean refugees

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U.S. takes 101 North Korean refugees

The United States has received 101 North Korean refugees in the past few years under legislation to help improve human rights conditions in the reclusive state, statistics showed Saturday.

The total breaks down to nine for 2006, 22 for 2007, 37 for 2008, 25 for 2009 and eight for 2010, according to figures released Saturday by the Office of Immigration Statistics at the Department of Homeland Security.

Hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees are also believed to be in China.

Most North Korean refugees, fleeing poverty, aim to make their way to South Korea via neighboring China.

South Korea has received more than 20,000 North Korean defectors since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

China has come under criticism for repatriating North Korean refugees under a secret agreement with North Korea, categorizing defectors as economic immigrants rather than refugees, despite the danger of them being persecuted back home.

The North Korean refugees were admitted into the U.S. under the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which calls for the provision of financial aid to help improve North Korea’s human rights and accept North Korean defectors into the U.S.

In 2008, Congress approved the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act for another four years, calling for “activities to support human rights and democracy and freedom of information in North Korea,” as well as “assistance to North Koreans who are outside North Korea,” and 12-hour daily broadcasting to North Korea.

The 201 Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report also showed that 73,293 people were admitted to the U.S. as refugees in 2010.

The leading countries of nationality were Iraq (18,016), Burma (16,693) and Bhutan (12,363).

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