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CBC NEWS Monday May 2, 2005

A Colombian man who came to Yukon fleeing guerillas in his own country has been granted refugee status.

A decision by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee board last month means Alejandro Ospina and his wife can stay in this country.

“I couldn’t believe it. I read the letter a couple of times,” says Ospina of the notice he received.

Ospina had appeared before a refugee board in Vancouver and recited his experience in Colombia.

“The guerillas wanted me to be part of their team, their army and I refused,” he told the board.

Ospina says because he refused to join a leftist rebel group he received numerous death threats and fled to Canada.

He and his wife moved to Whitehorse less than a year ago. Ospina and his wife came to national attention last December, when his wife, who was only days away from giving birth, was granted a stay of deportation.

His wife, from Argentina, had applied for refugee status but was denied.

Max Berger, a refugee lawyer in Toronto, says Ospina’s refugee status allows his wife to remain in Canada.

“In his application he is entitled to include his dependents which would include his wife so both of them would quite routinely be landed together,” he says.

Berger says those claiming refugee status from Colombia are often successful.

He cites active conflict between guerillas groups and the government, a situation that produces genuine refugees.


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