Seoul court orders gov’t to let Syrian refugee stay

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Seoul court orders gov’t to let Syrian refugee stay

The Seoul Administrative Court has ordered the government to issue a Syrian asylum seeker a humanitarian stay visa after his request for official refugee status was rejected, court officials said Sunday.

The Syrian requested refugee status after entering Korea on a short-term visit visa. He claimed that if sent back home, he would be conscripted into the army and die. But the government rejected the request, saying fears of conscription or combat do not constitute legitimate reasons for refugee status.

He filed a suit to have the decision repealed, but the court also found that he doesn’t meet the criteria for official refugee status. Still, it ordered the government to issue him a humanitarian stay permit, saying he could face risks to his life if he goes back home.

Humanitarian stay permits are granted when asylum seekers fail to meet the criteria for official refugee status but are allowed to stay in the country due to other circumstances. Permits can be extended every year.

Last week, the government granted refugee status to two Yemeni asylum seekers. It was the first time it had been granted to a Yemeni since hundreds of asylum seekers from Yemen arrived in Jeju earlier this year.

The arrival of Yemeni refugees had sparked worries that many of them could be seeking jobs or other economic advantages. Some thought similar arrivals could follow and that the refugees’ presence would lead to increases in crime and other social problems.

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