Central Asia

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

| Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Tajikistan | Turkmenistan | Uzbekistan |


Subregion: Central Asia


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

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Central Asia

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2018 {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"budget":[18.10424758,16.60239248,14.66960535,14.67845337,8.95320574,8.6159989],"expenditure":[9.50114653,9.91686891,9.66512855,6.90699052,5.48594254,5.32012444]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[10.69836272,10.12037679,9.01942936,9.8489543,6.51823425,6.52988892],"p2":[3.36044574,4.0248484,3.9926304,4.82949907,2.43497149,2.08610998],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[4.04543912,2.45716729,1.65754559,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[6.13063122,5.58755005,5.26348795,4.07905485,3.56376437,3.7180937],"p2":[2.0418551,2.89679687,3.13810874,2.82793567,1.92217817,1.60203074],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[1.32866021,1.43252199,1.26353186,null,null,null]}
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People of Concern - 2018

[["Refugees",3600],["Asylum-seekers",619],["Returned refugees",4],["Stateless",97510],["Others of concern",2]]
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Response in 2018

The operational context in Central Asia remained stable and largely unchanged in 2018. There were 3,600 refugees, 619 asylum-seekers and 97,510 stateless persons across the five countries of the sub-region as of the end of 2018.
Security considerations and socio-economic development continued to dominate the countries’ political agendas defining their internal and foreign policies, including asylum and statelessness matters. In 2018, there were no major changes in this regard: the countries continued restrictive practices related to access to asylum procedures, local integration and the regularization of the status of a small number of mandate refugees.
The five countries of the sub-region, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, have made significant progress in reducing statelessness on their territories. Since the start of the #IBelong campaign, five countries have reduced the number of stateless persons in the sub-region by almost 40,000. In 2018, all countries participated in a regional conference in Almaty on the right to legal identity and the prevention of statelessness. The event took stock of the achievements, shared good practices and laid the groundwork for the next steps including advocacy strategy in 2019 ahead of the a global event on statelessness in October 2019.

UNHCR's operations in Central Asia in 2018

The general political and security context in Turkmenistan remained stable, though the country’s economy continued to deteriorate in 2018. The Government undertook reforms to harmonize legislation with international standards while enhancing cooperation with other countries and international organizations. The new legislation, including the amended Law on Refugees in 2017, however, is not being implemented. Further restrictions on civil liberties were also reported in 2018.
While Turkmenistan is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and has a relevant national legal framework, it has not registered any asylum-seekers since 2005. At the end of 2018, there were 22 mandate refugees in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan, being the only country in the region to have acceded to the two Statelessness Conventions, continues to demonstrate efforts to resolve statelessness. In 2018, the President issued a decree granting nationality to 735 persons. As of the end of 2018, 2,901 stateless persons and 1,813 persons of undetermined nationality remained, according to UNHCR’s partners in the country.
Uzbekistan accepted the recommendations to accede to the Refugee and two Statelessness Conventions at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review session in May 2018.
In Uzbekistan there were 14 mandate refugees as of the end of 2018. The cases of seven people were closed or inactivated in 2018 due to voluntary repatriation, spontaneous departure from Uzbekistan, loss of contact for several years or acquisition of residence permits. Further to the Government’s acceptance of the recommendations to accede to the Refugee and Statelessness Conventions in July 2018, the Civil Registration Law was amended to ensure that children born to undocumented parents are registered at birth. The Government initiated a nation-wide campaign to identify and register undocumented births, marriages and deaths, aiming at registering all children without a birth certificate by July 2019, with a view to preventing statelessness.

Operational environment

 The number of new asylum-seekers in the sub-region remains relatively modest – between 700-1000 every year- but regular. The total numbers of refugees and statelessness persons in each country are decreasing. Steady progress has been achieved on the statelessness front.  Currently the region hosts 113,786 stateless persons, with the majority (85,868 persons) in Uzbekistan. By the end of 2018, the estimated number of refugees will be 4,600 (of which 96 per cent are Afghans) and estimated number of stateless persons 110,000.  Meanwhile, there are 3,628 refugees in Central Asia, including 518 mandate refugees as of July 2017.  Majority of the refugees are in Tajikistan (2,612).   
Migration to and from the Russian Federation and within the region remains a preoccupation of the countries with added security concerns. Central Asian countries are also transit countries for migrants and refugees on the move to Europe and beyond.  While the countries have relatively developed legal frameworks for asylum, they continue to seek to strike a right balance between protection of asylum-seekers and refugees and security measures.
The governments of the region have been making efforts to prevent and reduce statelessness through the granting of citizenship and providing documentation to those who hitherto identified without any legal status. However, security concerns drove the governments of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz republic to amend its constitutions to allow deprivation of citizenship on the ground of links to terrorism or extremism and national security concerns. 

Response and implementation

 Over the past years, the focus of UNHCR’s operations has shifted from direct assistance to refugees to advocacy, capacity building and preparedness.  
To reflect this direction, UNHCR’s regional strategy 2016-2018 for Central Asia aims at supporting the governments in three areas: enhancement of asylum systems, solutions for refugees and stateless persons and emergency preparedness.
On the asylum front, robust efforts will be made towards legal reforms, ensuring unimpeded access to the territory, fair asylum procedures, protection-sensitive border management and referral mechanisms with use of the Almaty Process as a platform for engagement on refugee protection.
UNHCR’s work on statelessness will have two dimensions. First, it will continue to advocate for the confirming or granting citizenship and providing documentation to those who are entitled to it and granting statelessness status to those that have no nationality. Since 2014, UNHCR assisted 33,000 individuals to resolve statelessness by the end of September 2017 together with partner agencies.  These efforts will be continued in 2018-2019. Second, it will work closely with the governments to further improve the existing legal frameworks on citizenship.   
Refugees recognized under government procedures have clear legal status and enjoy generally access to social services. However, refugees recognized under UNHCR mandate, while largely tolerated, lack legal status and limited access to services. UNHCR has already shifted its engagement from direct refugee status determination (RSD) to capacity-building and support for the governments’ own RSD processes. UNHCR will continue to work with the government to explore alternative ways to ensure legal status for the remaining 518 mandate refugees by the end of 2019.
Given the volatile nature of the region, especially the countries bordering Afghanistan, UNHCR will continue to support the relevant government authorities to enhance its preparedness in case of refugee influx. Key elements continue to be access to territory, admission and reception.

2018 Budget and Expenditure in Central Asia | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Kazakhstan Regional Office Budget
Kyrgyzstan Budget
Tajikistan Budget
Total Budget

2018 Voluntary Contributions to Central Asia | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Central Asia overall
United States of America 01,700,000 1,700,000
Central Asia overall subtotal 01,700,000 1,700,000
Kazakhstan Regional Office
Kazakhstan 0161,949 161,949
Kazakhstan Regional Office subtotal 0161,949 161,949
Kyrgyzstan 060,256 60,256
Kyrgyzstan subtotal 060,256 60,256
Private donors in Japan 64,6130 64,613
Tajikistan subtotal 64,6130 64,613
Total 64,6131,922,205 1,986,817
Latest contributions
  • 17-JUL-2019
  • 16-JUL-2019
  • 11-JUL-2019
  • 10-JUL-2019
  • 08-JUL-2019
    European Union
  • Kuwait
  • 05-JUL-2019
  • 04-JUL-2019

    private donors

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  • 03-JUL-2019
  • 02-JUL-2019
  • 30-JUN-2019

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