Eastern Europe

Operational information on the Eastern Europe subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format. This subregion covers the following countries:

| Armenia | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Georgia | Russian Federation | Turkey | Ukraine

Subregion: Eastern Europe


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Eastern Europe

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2018 {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"budget":[270.95338247,373.29339842,420.086669828,423.24577262,429.650058418,491.51228885],"expenditure":[93.80871945,129.57658867,127.2709373,168.29172532,186.91989969,158.79881046]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[254.58595382,348.65309119,370.486506469,379.8935932,392.981355428,459.99920613],"p2":[3.29116795,3.22419003,2.750744475,2.21052703,2.11277392,2.29926579],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[13.0762607,21.4161172,46.849418884,41.14165239,34.55592907,29.21381693]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[87.06124285,114.93678843,98.15642826,144.86997663,166.23009045,139.45047665],"p2":[1.55514895,1.28411391,1.14276108,1.01061833,1.44116086,1.65779485],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[5.19232765,13.35568633,27.97174796,22.41113036,19.24864838,17.69053896]}
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People of Concern - 2018

[["Refugees",3770264],["Refugee-like situation",15182],["Asylum-seekers",320816],["IDPs",2402803],["Returned refugees",39],["Stateless",126921]]
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Response in 2018

Issues related to the unresolved conflicts in the region continue to permeate all dimensions of foreign and local policy-making, including migration and asylum policies. In 2018, UNHCR advocated for access to territory and to asylum procedures across the sub-region. UNHCR continued to support the eradication of statelessness and advocated for accession to relevant international instruments.
Daily ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh and Eastern Ukraine continued to be reported throughout the year and resulted in casualties. Nevertheless, the status-quo was maintained and limited number of new internal displacement occurred.
In the region, UNHCR continued to support peace processes under the leadership of the OSCE, the European Union and the United Nations.
While continuing to support the governments of Eastern European states in enhancing the quality of their asylum systems through the Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus (QIEE), UNHCR has undertaken a thorough assessment of progress made within the project implementation and the remaining shortcomings in order to identify, together with the participating governments, the priority areas and better align the QIEE with the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees and the state pledges of the upcoming Global Refugee Forum. 
In 2018, Turkey hosted over 3.6 million Syrians. The Government granted temporary protection to, and assumed completely the registration and referral of, asylum-seekers of all nationalities in the country. UNHCR worked with the Government to effectively implement a decentralized refugee status determination and registration process consistent with international standards as regulated in the Turkish Law on Foreigners and International Protection.
By year-end, the total number of people of concern reached just over 4 million in Turkey, and a further 2.7 in the other countries in Eastern Europe. This comprises 3.8 million refugees (including 3.7 million primarily Syrian refugees in Turkey and 77,000 Ukrainians in Russia); around 320,000 asylum-seekers (some 311,000 in Turkey); over 2.5 million IDPs (some 1.6 million in Ukraine, 620,000 in Azerbaijan and 282,000 in Georgia); more than 122,000 stateless persons (76,000 in Russia, 36,000 in Ukraine, 6,000 in Belarus, and 3,600 in Azerbaijan).

UNHCR operations in Eastern Europe in 2018

Operations in the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine are presented in separate country chapters.

In Armenia, progress was made in building capacity for refugee protection for administrative judges – through the development of an online course – and for border guards – through the set-up of a training centre with state-funded trainers. UNHCR’s monitoring and coaching of first instance decisions makers resulted in preserving a relatively high refugee recognition rate. Government agreed to develop an integration strategy covering Syrian-Armenians, migrants, recognized refugees and asylum-seekers with action plans specific to each groups. Gradual improvement in access to employment for people originating from Syria and for other people of concern was observed through economic integration projects and awareness raising of the rights of people of concern among service providers, however some gaps remain. Continuous development and updating of standard operating procedures and case management training resulted in improved collaboration between partners and streamlining of the assistance provided to people of concern.
In Azerbaijan, priority was given to advocacy at the policy level for the adoption of the law on complementary protection and access of refugees to rights and services, notably for UNHCR mandate refugees, who constitute 93% of all refugees in Azerbaijan. UNHCR continued its interventions at the individual level by providing direct assistance to people of concern. UNHCR engaged with the authorities to address statelessness by presenting a gaps analysis, recommending an identification/nationality campaign and contributing to the preparations of the 2019 population census. UNHCR continued to provide legal assistance to identified stateless persons, as well as to those at risk of statelessness. With regard to IDPs, UNHCR focused its involvement on legal assistance and support for SGBV prevention and response as significant support and assistance is provided by the Government.
In Belarus, UNHCR in cooperation with the Government and the CIS Executive Committee held an International Statelessness Conference that included delegations from the CIS member states, international and regional organizations, civil society, diplomatic missions, academia and experts from the EU. The conclusions of the Conference will represent the basis for further statelessness related activities, most importantly, aiming at Belarus’ accession to the UN Statelessness Conventions. In 2018, through the QIEE, UNHCR supported the capacity-building of the Government partners to improve asylum procedures in the country. In 2018, UNHCR strengthened its local integration activities, including accredited Russian language training programme and facilitated access to the labour market for 36 people of concern, of whom 12 are employed.
In Georgia, the Government undertook an internal restructuring and as a result the responsibilities of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees were divided among the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs. The change delayed some of the planned activities and also postponed the long awaited IDPs Social Assistance reform. The Government continued with its durable housing programme for IDPs. In 2018, National Security Concerns continued to be an important consideration for the Government in reviewing individual international protection needs. In Abkhazia, UNHCR sustained its protection monitoring of some 50,000 returnees and worked with partners to address issues related to documentation which impacted freedom of movement, education opportunities and livelihood. UNHCR maintained its livelihood interventions in response to the increased isolation and economic deprivation of the IDPs returnee population in Abkhazia, resulting from the closure of the crossing points and the widespread pest infestation which damaged crops and threatened the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers.

Operational environment

Eastern Europe continues to host a significant number of people of concern to UNHCR, including refugees, IDPs and stateless persons. UNHCR works to ensure that all people of concern receive protection, live in safety and dignity together with host communities, and progressively attain lasting solutions.
Some countries in Eastern Europe have made significant advances in recent years in terms of aligning national legislation and procedures on asylum and statelessness issues with international standards. UNHCR continues to support the efforts to strengthen the state systems. In order to further build fair and impartial asylum procedures in Eastern Europe, UNHCR is engaged in the quality assurance initiative in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus, focusing on enhancing the quality of refugee status determination procedures and related processes. UNHCR also continues to support measures to prevent and reduce statelessness, as well as accession to the two Statelessness Conventions for the countries that have not yet become the parties.
Yet, integration opportunities for refugees remain limited, in part due to the difficult economic situation, the lack of integration support mechanisms and resources, as well as incidents of xenophobia.
The conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and Ukraine continue to impact the subregion. UNHCR closely monitors the situation of internally displaced Ukrainians, as well as the more than 1.4 million Ukrainians seeking asylum or other forms of legal pathways in neighbouring countries and other countries in Europe.  
Unresolved conflicts in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia do not contribute to the resolution of displacement challenges. While the needs of the displaced are gradually being met, many people of concern are still in need of durable solutions. The re-escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in April 2016 resulted in displacement of some 12,000 people, and has put contingency planning and preparedness as high priority for 2018.
In 2018, UNHCR’s work in Eastern Europe will focus on:
  • Strengthening national asylum systems to ensure that people of concern to UNHCR have access to protection;
  • Supporting access to durable solutions for refugees, primarily through local integration and, where appropriate, resettlement and voluntary repatriation;
  • Supporting government actions for and accountabilities to all people of concern, including IDPs;
  • Supporting peacebuilding initiatives in an effort to improve conditions for durable solutions and prevention of further displacement;
  • Strengthening national legislation and procedures to prevent and reduce statelessness, and advocating accession to the two statelessness conventions;
  • Assisting people of concern with specific needs, while working to facilitate access to public services and livelihoods for all people of concern;
  • Work closely with relevant stake holders on contingency planning, as required

Response and implementation

Operations in the Russian FederationTurkey and Ukraine are presented in separate country pages.
Armenia has been significantly impacted by the arrival of Syrian refugees in recent years, and some 14,000 Syrian nationals of Armenian origin remained in the country as at mid-2017. The most vulnerable Syrians will continue to benefit from support provided by UNHCR, in cooperation with the Government and NGOs, including in terms of accommodation and livelihoods.
As of mid-2017, some 1,200 refugees, 263 asylum-seekers, 3,600 stateless persons, and over 613,120 IDPs were present in Azerbaijan. UNHCR will continue to cooperate with the Government to strengthen implementation of international legal instruments; improve the national legislative framework; develop Government action plans aimed at achieving solutions for people of concern; improve the national asylum procedure; ensure access to basic services and the labour market for all people of concern; and advocate for a needs-based approach to enhance targeting of most vulnerable IDPs.
In Belarus, the effects of the situation in Ukraine will continue to be felt in 2018. As of mid-2017, the country hosted about 165,000 Ukrainians. Some 6,000 stateless persons and 2,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly from Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Syrian Arab Republic were also present in Belarus. In 2018, UNHCR will support efforts to strengthen the asylum system and provide protection. Activities will include: monitoring the application of the 1951 Convention and national asylum legislation; provision of legal and technical assistance to the Government; building capacity of Government departments dealing with statelessness; ensuring full and unhindered access to territory and refugee status determination procedures; prevention of refoulement; and enhancing local integration capacity.
In Georgia, UNHCR will support efforts by relevant stakeholders to protect, integrate and improve living conditions for displaced populations. As of mid-2017, some 2,200 refugees and people in refugee-like situations, 344 asylum-seekers, 600 stateless persons, and 276,000 IDPs (including people in an IDP-like situation in Abkhazia) were present in Georgia. UNHCR will seek to ensure that people of concern are informed of their rights, improve access to State services, and expand ongoing socio-economic support based on a combination of self-reliance and cash-based interventions, as well as social cohesion projects. Legal aid and counselling will continue to be provided to both refugees and IDPs, and the Office will carry out monitoring of reception conditions and access to territory. UNHCR will seek to strengthen the quality of national asylum procedures through capacity development activities and advocate a needs-based approach to assisting IDPs.

2018 Budget and Expenditure in Eastern Europe | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Belarus Budget
Regional Office in the South Caucasus Budget
Russian Federation Budget
Turkey Budget
Ukraine Budget
Total Budget

2018 Voluntary Contributions to Eastern Europe | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Germany 47,67000 47,670
International Organization for Migration 43,29500 43,295
Belarus subtotal 90,96500 90,965
Regional Office in the South Caucasus
Armenia 0098,000 98,000
Azerbaijan 7,20000 7,200
Private donors in Japan 0182,4840 182,484
UNDP 00192,071 192,071
Regional Office in the South Caucasus subtotal 7,200182,484290,071 479,755
Canada 1,886,79200 1,886,792
European Union 70,405,65400 70,405,654
France 929,15200 929,152
Germany 3,409,09100 3,409,091
Japan 2,100,00000 2,100,000
Norway 1,020,27800 1,020,278
Private donors in Germany 0029,481 29,481
Republic of Korea 1,000,00000 1,000,000
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1,126,42000 1,126,420
United States of America 41,200,000012,700,000 53,900,000
Turkey subtotal 123,077,387012,729,481 135,806,868
Canada 00589,159 589,159
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 0849,0990 849,099
Denmark 002,286,934 2,286,934
Estonia 0235,8490 235,849
European Union 02,675,3880 2,675,388
Germany 01,136,3640 1,136,364
Japan 0700,0000 700,000
Luxembourg 0455,063444,313 899,375
Norway 0595,4510 595,451
Private donors in Spain 01,2920 1,292
Private donors in Switzerland 0018 18
Russian Federation 0250,0000 250,000
Sweden 01,269,0360 1,269,036
United States of America 005,900,000 5,900,000
Ukraine subtotal 08,167,5409,220,425 17,387,965
Total 123,175,5528,350,02422,239,977 153,765,553
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