A group of 23 Myanmar refugees from refugee camps in Thailand arrived this week at Incheon International Airport in the Republic of Korea (ROK). Another family of seven, who had been scheduled to travel with these refugees, were delayed for health reasons and will arrive in Korea next week.
The 23 were welcomed by Korea Immigration Service (KIS) Commissioner Woo-hyun Kim and officials of partner refugee resettlement agencies including IOM, the UN Migration Agency, represented by IOM Seoul Head of Office, Miah Park.
The Commissioner reaffirmed the Government’s support for the ROK’s pilot refugee resettlement programme, according to IOM press release issued on Friday.
Since 2015, the ROK, in partnership with IOM and UNHCR, has accepted 86 refugees for resettlement as part of a pilot project mandated by the country’s July 2013 Refugee Law – the first of its kind in Asia.
Under the initiative, IOM in Thailand provides health screening, pre-departure orientation and arranges travel for the refugees.
After arriving in Korea, they stay at a government Immigration Reception Centre for six months and receive Korean language and cultural orientation training.
‘We – the Government and our partners – have all learned a lot over the past three years and I hope that this experience will help us to improve and expand the programme,’ said Park.
‘It has also given us all a much better understanding of the protection and other needs of asylum seekers and refugees in Korea.’
Korea’s Ministry of Justice will evaluate the pilot refugee resettlement programme and decide whether to extend it to the end of 2017.