An activist talks during a press conference, calling on the South Korean government to provide shelter to Afghan refugees outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul last Friday. (Yonhap)
The justice ministry said Wednesday it will grant special stay permits to Afghans living in South Korea out of humanitarian concerns.
The ministry said a total of 434 Afghans, who have been staying in the country on either short- or long-term visa, will benefit from the measure.
The measure will remain in place until "the situation in Afghanistan becomes stabilized," the ministry said. Afghanistan remains in a state of chaos following the Taliban's seizure of power earlier this month.
Of the total, 72 people are staying illegally and 169 people have less than six months left until their authorized period of stay expires, according to the ministry.
The ministry will allow legal aliens to extend their stays after a screening process. Those who are illegally staying in the country will not face deportations but be encouraged to leave South Korea voluntarily when the situation becomes stable and safe enough for them to return, the ministry said.
In the case of Afghans who have no fixed residence or no local contacts here, or have criminal records, they will be under the ministry's custody.
"The measure was taken in line with humanitarian principles for Afghans living in Korea who cannot go back to their country due to political chaos," Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said in a statement. "The ministry also strengthened the review process out of public safety concerns." (Yonhap)