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Five Russian men who escaped forced recruitment have been stranded at Seoul airport for months seeking refugee status.

Five Russian men who fled Russia following the government’s military mobilization order last September have been stranded at Incheon International Airport in South Korea for months after authorities refused to accept them.

Three of them arrived at the airport last October and two in November, according to their lawyer Lee Jong-san. But since the South Korean Ministry of Justice denied their asylum claims, they have been stuck in an airport departure lounge for months, waiting for their appeals to be resolved, Lee says.

“They are given one meal a day, which is lunch, but the rest of the day they live on bread and drink. They can shower, but they have to wash their clothes by hand and cannot leave the departure and non-duty areas,” Lee told CNN. Access to health care is limited, but mental health support is not, which is crucial in their precarious situation,” he added.

A South Korean human rights group said in a press release last month that the government must honor the men’s applications and refuse to become “instruments of murder” and that if they return to their country, “they are likely to be detained or forcibly recruited.”

The South Korean Ministry of Justice has rejected their applications as “not worthy of evaluation,” arguing that refusal of conscription is not grounds for recognizing refugee status, according to Lee, who reviewed the ministry’s document.

Lee argues that men’s refusal to serve in the military “must be recognized as a political reason under the current circumstances of war. [en Ucrania] Condemned by international law.”

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“[Los hombres] They are political refugees facing persecution,” the activist group’s press release added: “People who apply for refugee status fleeing political and religious persecution in their countries are eligible for protection under international law. … As a developed and democratic country that guarantees human rights, Korea [del Sur] It has quietly repatriated refugees who opposed the war.

The men have appealed the decision, and three of them will face the first court ruling on Jan. 31, when the court will decide whether their case “merits to be evaluated,” Lee said. If the court finds in your favor, the Ministry of Justice must review your applications for refugee status.

South Korea has compulsory conscription and takes draft breaks very seriously.

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