South Korea grants humanitarian visas to 23 Yemenis

South Korea’s immigration office has granted 23 Yemenis the right to stay in the country for one year, on humanitarian grounds.

A group of Yemeni asylum seekers leave the immigration office on the southern Jeju Island on Friday after being granted permits to stay in South Korea. Photo by Yonhap
A group of Yemeni asylum seekers leave the immigration office on the southern Jeju Island on Friday after being granted permits to stay in South Korea. Photo by Yonhap

The Jeju Immigration Office issued humanitarian visas to 23 Yemeni asylum seekers, among some 440 seeking permission to stay in the country, Yonhap reported.
Those given humanitarian visas include families with young children, pregnant women and people with injuries. Officials said ten are under 19 years old, seven came with parents or guardians and three came alone.

Hundreds of Yemenis arrived South Korea’s resort island of Jeju, fleeing the ongoing civil war in Yemen.

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South Korea grants relief to a very small percentage of asylum seekers. In 2017, 27 were accepted as a refugee, 0.4 percent of the total applicants, while 318 were permitted to stay on humanitarian visas.

Those permitted to stay in the country are allowed to travel outside Jeju. Yemenis have been grounded there after the Immigration Office of Jeju blocked them from leaving the island in April, amid growing fears of an unprecedentedly large number of Muslim refugees in the East Asian country.

The Immigration Office of Jeju say the Yemenis are not eligible for refugee status, as they don’t meet its definition of a refugee as a person who has “a fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

ByWooyoung Lee