JEJU/SEOUL — The immigration office on the southern island of Jeju decided on Wednesday to give 339 Yemeni asylum seekers humanitarian stay permits in South Korea, the justice ministry said.
The office also rejected refuge applications from 34 Yemenis and deferred decisions on 85 others.
A total of 481 Yemenis applied for asylum in South Korea after they started arriving on the southern island of Jeju early this year. Of them, 23 were granted humanitarian stay permits last month, and the results of a review on the remaining 458 people were announced on Wednesday.
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 should be extended every year and holders can leave Jeju for other parts of the country.
The arrival of Yemeni refugees sparked worries that many of them could be seeking jobs and other economic advantages. Some thought similar arrivals could follow and that the refugees’ presence would lead to increases in crime and other social problems.
The justice ministry has pledged to revise the Refugee Act to prevent fake asylum seekers from abusing the system and to take steps to significantly speed up deliberations on refugee applications. — YONHAP