Thirteen people from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are seeking asylum in the UN protectorate of Kosovo, the UN refugee agency said yesterday.
"Ten people from Bangladesh, two from India and one from Pakistan arrived on a flight from Istanbul on Monday. They have sought asylum in Kosovo," said Shpend Halili, a spokesman for the UNHCR in Kosovo.
"It is an unusual case and a new experience for Kosovo," which has no system for dealing with such cases, Halili told AFP.
The United Nations and NATO have run Kosovo since a conflict between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian separatists was brought to an end by NATO in June 1999. Legally, the province remains a part of Serbia.
"If we define them as refugees according to our mandate, the UN mission (UNMIK) and the government would have to take the case over because it is their responsibility to look after people who come to Kosovo seeking sanctuary," said Halili.
On Monday the UN Security Council approved talks on resolving Kosovo's future status.
Ethnic Albanians, who outnumber Serbs and other minorities in the province by more than nine to one, are seeking nothing short of independence from Serbia, which Belgrade firmly opposes.