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Statement to Journalists and Media

September 18, 2006

Attention: Members of the News Media, Bangkok

I wish to inform you that a group of seven North Korean refugees, all women, have arrived in the Nongkai Province of Thailand from Laos from Laos and have presented themselves without delay to the authorities at 09:00 hrs., Monday, 18 September 2006 in accordance with Article 31 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which prohibits, among other things, imposing penalties on refugees on account of their illegal entry. They are appealing in desperation to the King and People of Thailand for safe passage to the foreign authorities concerned and swift travel to the country accepting them.

In August, the seven refugees met in China for the first time during their journey south to escape the specter of repatriation by Chinese authorities. At the time, the group was 11 women when they arrived in Laos. As they entered the territory of Laos, they endured cold and rain on a hillside for over 30 hours without food and drink at which time they were finally rescued by an international aid worker from Laos. The group was subsequently reduced to seven when four of the refugees decided to seek their own way independently a few days ago.

The desperate plight of the seven in Laos as well as their helplessness when they arrive in Thailand have come to the attention of the Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), an NGO based in Tokyo, Japan and Helping Hands Korea, an American NGO based in East Asia. The individual profiles of the seven refugees are attached.

LFNKR provides physical assistance for the survival of North Korean refugees wherever they are encountered. We are also at the forefront in demanding that these North Koreans be granted the refugee status they deserve under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Your kind attention and bringing their situation to the attention of Thai people and international community will be greatly appreciated.

Kato Hiroshi,
Secretary General,
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101, Nishikata HITEL, Bunkyo-ku,
Tokyo 1130222 Japan
TEL/FAX: +81-3-3815-8127

Tim Peters
Founder of
Helping Hands Korea
Tel: 82-11-9652-6731