UPDATE: Canada ready to accept Uzbek refugees - embassy

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MOSCOW, July 28 (RIA Novosti) - Canada has agreed to temporarily accept up to 50 refugees from Uzbekistan who are currently in Kyrgyzstan and to whom the UN refugee agency UNHCR has given refugee status, a spokesman from the Canadian Embassy in Moscow said Thursday.

"This group really does have to be moved," the spokesman said.

There are currently more than 400 Uzbek nationals in Kyrgyzstan who fled their homes following the Andizhan uprising in May.

"Canada has informed the UNHCR that it will be ready to consider a long-term, permanent resettling," he said. "But today it is not ready to propose this variant."

As part of accepting Uzbek citizens, Canada "should guarantee local residents that these people will not threaten the security and health of Canadians," the spokesman said. "The case of each Uzbek resident will be considered individually."

"Uzbek refugees should meet all admittance requirements before they will be permitted to enter Canada," he said. "Canada is following the developments and continuing multilateral negotiations with other governments and the UN."

Uzbek authorities are demanding the extradition of the refugees, accusing them of committing various crimes and being involved in extremist organizations, particularly, the local unit of Hizb-ut-Tahrir al-Islami (the Party of Islamic Liberation which is banned in Uzbekistan).

According to official data, 187 people were killed in the Andizhan turmoil. However, human rights advocates reported hundreds of victims, including civilians.

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