The Justice Ministry’s immigration office on Jeju Island says it has decided to allow 23 Yemini nationals seeking asylum to remain in the country on humanitarian grounds.

The office said Friday those who were granted permission to stay include families with children, pregnant women, minors, and those with injuries.

Officials clarified, however, that the asylum seekers, who claim they are either fleeing from a civil war zone or forced conscription, will not be granted official refugee status as they failed to meet the related criteria. 

Under UN Refugee Convention guidelines, in order to gain refugee status one must have fled his or her country over fear of being persecuted for their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political views.

The 23 Yemenis will be allowed to stay in South Korea for one year. Changes in Yemen will determine whether the immigration office terminates their stay before or extends it beyond the one-year period.

[Photo : YONHAP News]