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Uruguay sending mission to meet Syrian refugees

August 19, 2014

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — A delegation from Uruguay will head to Lebanon on Friday to select 120 Syrian refugees who can come to the South American country, the country’s Human Rights Department said.

Forty of the refugees are scheduled to arrive in September and the rest next year.

Human Rights Department spokeswoman Nathalia Platas said Tuesday that 60 percent of the people in the families chosen must be under 18 years of age. Families also should have at least one person willing to work, probably in agriculture.

She said religion won’t be a factor in selection, but the refugees will have to understand that women and men have equal rights in Uruguay and both boys and girls have to attend school.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights selected the candidates who will be interviewed. Platas said most had suffered or witnessed torture in some form.

Opinion polls indicate most Uruguayans favor accepting the refugees, though a majority dislike President Jose Mujica’s offer to take other refugees: six prisoners to be released from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, including four Syrians.

United Nations officials say there are more than 2 million Syrian refugees, many filling camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Germany and Brazil have offered to take thousands of Syrian refugees.

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