South East Asia

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

| Bangladesh | Brunei Darussalam | Cambodia | Indonesia |Lao People’s Democratic Republic | Malaysia | Mongolia | Myanmar | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | Timor-Leste | Viet Nam |

Subregion: South East Asia


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  • 2019

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion South East Asia

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2018 {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"budget":[170.05225616,159.04005036,169.348267493,139.741598142,186.14113247,326.58805622],"expenditure":[86.67864779,70.15169772,59.54246395,56.2090856,99.25054657,212.90504519]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[86.93198302,84.64840292,114.014204274,104.8296167,149.94478163,280.22573367],"p2":[15.84872147,16.99425914,20.40722544,7.317298551,10.91760179,27.80146192],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[67.27155167,57.3973883,34.926837779,27.594682891,25.27874905,18.56086063]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[39.40045105,38.35734844,43.66420899,39.16382945,81.69782382,190.41983829],"p2":[7.40528991,7.95518218,6.57623988,5.09494777,5.55401014,12.490434],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[39.87290683,23.8391671,9.30201508,11.95030838,11.99871261,9.9947729]}
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People of Concern - 2018

[["Refugees",1091643],["Refugee-like situation",49984],["Asylum-seekers",46269],["IDPs",447955],["Returned IDPs",446034],["Returned refugees",95],["Stateless",1099201],["Others of concern",80169]]
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Response in 2018

At the end of 2018, the South East Asia sub-region hosted some 3.26 million people of concern to UNHCR, an increase of 15.4% compared to the end of 2017. The 17,000 Rohingya refugees who fled from Rakhine state in Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2018 were already of concern to UNHCR, due to their statelessness in Myanmar.
Following the large-scale displacement of over 700,000 Rohingya refugees from the northern townships of Rakhine State to Bangladesh in 2017, the conditions in Rakhine State did not become conducive for voluntary repatriation in 2018, as the root causes contributing to their flight remained largely unchanged. Some progress was made in implementing the tripartite MoU signed by UNHCR, UNDP and the Government of Myanmar in June 2018. Under the MoU, UNHCR and UNDP conducted needs assessments in Rakhine State in the second half of 2018 and proposed the implementation of quick impact projects. However, UNHCR’s access to implement such projects and conduct further assessments was halted at the end of 2018 following an escalation in conflict between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military.
In Bangladesh, a family counting exercise completed by UNHCR and the Government of Bangladesh in 2018 identified a total of 900,000 Rohingya refugees. In the second half of 2018, UNHCR and the Government of Bangladesh began registering refugees individually - some 35,000 were registered by the end of the year. Before and during the cyclone and monsoon seasons, UNHCR, working with the Government of Bangladesh and other partners, undertook major emergency preparedness measures to fortify 90,000 shelters, to level terrain on which to build new shelters, and to relocate the 27,000 refugees facing the highest risk of flooding and landslides. UNHCR also continued to lead the protection response in Cox’s Bazar, ensuring that the principle of non-refoulement was upheld and supporting the Government of Bangladesh in efforts to identify and care for refugees with specific needs.  
UNHCR sought regional support and solutions for Rohingya refugees in 2018 by engaging ASEAN and convening member states in Geneva and Bangkok to advance a Solidarity Approach for the people of Rakhine State. The Solidarity Approach aims to encourage support for Myanmar and communities in Rakhine State aimed at creating conditions conducive to voluntary return, as well as enhance solidarity and responsibility sharing with Bangladesh and other refugee-hosting countries in the region.
Elsewhere in the sub-region, as available resettlement spaces decreased in 2018, UNHCR pursued alternative solutions by facilitating the voluntary repatriation of some 1,280 refugees from India to Sri Lanka and 93 refugees from Thailand to Myanmar. UNHCR also worked with the Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand to create education and livelihood opportunities. UNHCR extended capacity-building support to the three countries in the sub-region party to the 1951 Refugee Convention—Cambodia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste—including the provision of refugee status determination training for asylum officials in the Philippines. UNHCR also worked to build the protection capacity of local actors to respond to the needs of IDPs in Myanmar and the Philippines.
With the exception of the Rohingya population, there were positive developments in combatting statelessness, and efforts to support Governments in reducing statelessness continued throughout the year. At the regional level, UNHCR continued its partnership with ASEAN’s Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) to promote the legal identity of women and children, completing a report on research into the gaps in laws and policies in ASEAN member states. 

UNHCR Operations in South East Asia in 2018

Operations in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand are presented in separate country chapters. For other UNHCR operations in the subregion, please see below.
To support the Philippines in enhancing the asylum system and to address statelessness, UNHCR successfully advocated for the inclusion of people of concern in national programmes promoting self-reliance and enabling access to protection and documentation. Furthermore, in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, UNHCR continued its Protection Cluster lead role for IDPs, crafting a protection strategy which was endorsed by the Humanitarian Country Team.
Of the 14 countries covered by UNHCR’s Regional Office in Bangkok, the following seven do not have, or have only a minimal, UNHCR presence. In Cambodia, the Government reviewed its civil registration law to enhance the process for all populations in the country. UNHCR provided technical assistance to the Government to ensure that the changes increase access to legal documents for persons at risk of statelessness. In Mongolia, UNHCR registered new asylum-seekers, conducted RSD, prepared the resettlement applications for qualifying refugees, and actively engaged in individual case management, referring individuals to support services as necessary, while also supporting the extension of residence permits for people of concern. UNHCR received interns from a university in Singapore to work on emergency preparedness, protection and statelessness issues. In Viet Nam, the Government reviewed its law and policies, including nationality laws, in order to prevent and reduce statelessness. In December 2018, it granted citizenship to nearly 140 previously stateless persons and processed an additional 1,665 naturalization applications.
UNHCR undertook no major activities in Brunei Darussalam, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, nor in Timor-Leste in 2018. 

Operational environment*

In 2017, UNHCR’s response in the subregion was characterized by hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, to Bangladesh. First wave began in October 2016 and saw 70,000 people flee, the second, much larger flow began in August 2017 and has by November 2017 witnessed over 600,000 crossing the border. The humanitarian needs for people of concern to UNHCR on both sides of the border, refugees in Bangladesh, and stateless persons in Myanmar, are likely to remain immense and dire in 2018. As a result, there is a risk that maritime movements of refugees will resume using routes across the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea to other countries in the subregion.
While only three countries in the subregion are signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, most countries respect the principle of non-refoulement. UNHCR continues to build on this positive practice by formalizing temporary stay arrangements in countries in the region, including, as a first step, joint registration of refugees and asylum-seekers with relevant governments. This is coupled with efforts to decrease detention rates and improve access to education, health care and employment opportunities. 
Despite the crisis in the Rakhine State, progress towards solutions for refugees from other parts of Myanmar continues to be made. Voluntary return is maybe feasible for non-Rohingya refugee populations in Malaysia, Thailand and other host countries. Long-standing resettlement patterns have changed, with UNHCR’s regional policy emphasizing individual (rather than group) referrals based on specific needs and vulnerability. Significant efforts are also being made to enhance refugee access to legal employment, both for refugee populations with an ongoing need for protection and to provide a “soft landing” for those who may soon have access to durable solutions.
UNHCR’s statistics indicate that over 40 per cent of the world’s stateless persons currently reside in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States, including two of the world’s third largest stateless populations.
Significant progress is also being made on the identification and reduction of statelessness in Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam, building on past successes. UNHCR will continue to support the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children in increasing civil registration coverage and realizing the right to a nationality of women and children in ASEAN. The ‘2016 Bali Declaration on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime’ recognized that the prevention and reduction of statelessness is a means to address the root causes of displacement.
Birth registration will be promoted across the region to prevent statelessness, particularly with governments and development partners working towards the goals set out in the ‘Asian and Pacific civil registration and vital statistics decade 2015-2024’ and the sustainable development goal (target 16.9) on providing legal identity for all by 2030. Links with academic and research institutions to improve baseline data and to identify possible solutions will continue to be strengthened and partnerships with civil society organizations committed to resolving statelessness in the region will be further developed.
UNHCR will advocate for regional support for the Rohingya crisis through regional mechanisms such as ASEAN and the Bali Process, and also utilize such mechanisms, particularly the Bali Process Task Force on Planning and Preparedness, to prepare for any onward movement of refugees to other countries in the region.

*as of November 2017

Response and implementation

Operations in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar are presented in a separate country pages.
UNHCR has declared a Level 3 emergency in Bangladesh in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis. While continuing to deliver protection and the significant humanitarian assistance that will continue to be needed by refugees in Bangladesh in 2018, UNHCR will also seek to build the resilience of host communities in Bangladesh and advocate for regional support in addressing root causes through the development of the cross-border region between Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and northern Rakhine state, Myanmar. UNHCR considers it vital for the response to already at this stage reflect mid- to long-term aspects while at the same time ensuring that voluntary return of refugees in safety, dignity and sustainability to Myanmar remains a viable option and, as feasible, will work for within an overall regional approach that also takes into account refugee populations from Myanmar in other countries.
In the three 1951 Convention signatory countries—Cambodia, the Philippines and Timor Leste—UNHCR will continue to provide training and other support for government officials.  Additionally, in the Philippines, UNHCR will continue to support the emergency transit mechanism for the temporary relocation of individuals being permanently resettled to other countries, and continue building the protection capacity of local actors for IDPs in Mindanao.
UNHCR’s partnership with the Government of the Philippines in addressing statelessness is well-established. Priorities will include: supporting further progress in the Government’s work in cooperation with the Government of Indonesia to resolve the nationality status of persons of Indonesian descent residing in southern Mindanao; improving identification of potentially “at risk” populations; supporting the further strengthening of the civil registration and vital statistics system to help prevent statelessness and implementing the Government’s 2011 pledge to accede to the 1961 Convention.
In Mongolia, UNHCR will build on the visit of the Regional Representative and agreement on a new Memorandum of Understanding in late 2017 to improve mandate protection and solution options for refugees in the country.
In Viet Nam, UNHCR’s partnership with the Ministry of Justice is also well-established. UNHCR will continue to support the Government to consider reforming its nationality law to further preventing and reducing statelessness. Relevant priorities will include: supporting the Government in enhancing its identification of stateless persons; reduction of statelessness in the border areas with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic; and protection of stateless persons who reside in the border areas with Cambodia. These efforts would eventually result in Viet Nam acceding to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.


2018 Budget and Expenditure in South East Asia | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Bangladesh Budget
Indonesia Budget
Malaysia Budget
Myanmar Budget
Philippines Budget
Thailand Budget
Thailand Regional Office Budget
Total Budget

2018 Voluntary Contributions to South East Asia | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 4
IDP projects
South East Asia overall
United States of America 00021,600,000 21,600,000
South East Asia overall subtotal 00021,600,000 21,600,000
Australia 14,005,255000 14,005,255
Canada 2,196,666000 2,196,666
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 2,926,734000 2,926,734
Denmark 2,536,462000 2,536,462
Education Cannot Wait 282,807000 282,807
Estonia 61,728000 61,728
European Union 9,177,763000 9,177,763
France 525,000000 525,000
Germany 2,885,017000 2,885,017
International Organization for Migration 59,696000 59,696
Ireland 1,142,857000 1,142,857
Japan 4,383,417000 4,383,417
New Zealand 1,405,481000 1,405,481
Norway 4,424,851000 4,424,851
Private donors in Australia 1,433,269000 1,433,269
Private donors in China 328,846000 328,846
Private donors in Denmark 116,685000 116,685
Private donors in Egypt 2,810000 2,810
Private donors in France 7,292000 7,292
Private donors in Germany 2,411,252000 2,411,252
Private donors in India 687000 687
Private donors in Italy 38,283000 38,283
Private donors in Japan 1,082,890000 1,082,890
Private donors in Kenya 10000 10
Private donors in Kuwait 645,264000 645,264
Private donors in Lebanon 33,085000 33,085
Private donors in Mexico 61000 61
Private donors in Oman 7,162000 7,162
Private donors in Philippines 22,228000 22,228
Private donors in Qatar 6,448,208000 6,448,208
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 344,966000 344,966
Private donors in Singapore 152,165000 152,165
Private donors in South Africa 10000 10
Private donors in Sweden 31,306000 31,306
Private donors in Switzerland 1,475,373000 1,475,373
Private donors in Thailand 23,299000 23,299
Private donors in the Netherlands 33,611000 33,611
Private donors in the Republic of Korea 111,559000 111,559
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 370,867000 370,867
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 20,326000 20,326
Private donors in the United States of America 4,465,062000 4,465,062
Qatar 2,387,304000 2,387,304
Republic of Korea 1,400,000000 1,400,000
Saudi Arabia 1,754,329000 1,754,329
Spain 7,779000 7,779
Sweden 3,508,081000 3,508,081
Switzerland 2,559,267000 2,559,267
Thailand 100,000000 100,000
UNOPS 3,754,796000 3,754,796
United Arab Emirates 2,084,700000 2,084,700
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 13,089,005000 13,089,005
United States of America 55,000,000000 55,000,000
Bangladesh subtotal 151,265,569000 151,265,569
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 001,070,0000 1,070,000
European Union 58,218000 58,218
Private donors in Australia 0045,0080 45,008
Private donors in Canada 0044,2840 44,284
Private donors in China 00411,9220 411,922
Private donors in Egypt 003,3820 3,382
Private donors in France 0028,4990 28,499
Private donors in Germany 0068,1820 68,182
Private donors in India 005,9730 5,973
Private donors in Indonesia 002,1440 2,144
Private donors in Italy 0041,2030 41,203
Private donors in Japan 00141,3390 141,339
Private donors in Kenya 00490 49
Private donors in Kuwait 0014,2360 14,236
Private donors in Lebanon 0076,6450 76,645
Private donors in Oman 007,5150 7,515
Private donors in Philippines 0014,8800 14,880
Private donors in Qatar 008,0140 8,014
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 0054,2420 54,242
Private donors in Singapore 00155,5700 155,570
Private donors in South Africa 00930 93
Private donors in Spain 001,123,7080 1,123,708
Private donors in Sweden 00227,4710 227,471
Private donors in Switzerland 0042,4200 42,420
Private donors in Thailand 0044,7700 44,770
Private donors in the Netherlands 0012,6980 12,698
Private donors in the Republic of Korea 00119,0770 119,077
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 0090,2660 90,266
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 0044,5210 44,521
Private donors in the United States of America 00256,0000 256,000
Spain 004,5450 4,545
United Arab Emirates 00251,0000 251,000
Indonesia subtotal 58,21804,409,6540 4,467,872
European Union 737,849000 737,849
Private donors in Japan 387,976000 387,976
Private donors in Qatar 488,716000 488,716
Private donors in Singapore 300,000000 300,000
UNAIDS 00090,000 90,000
United States of America 130,540000 130,540
Malaysia subtotal 2,045,0820090,000 2,135,082
Australia 000753,580 753,580
Canada 000274,941 274,941
European Union 0544,444319,7530 864,198
France 0525,00000 525,000
Germany 000542,888 542,888
Japan 01,346,78501,547,761 2,894,545
Luxembourg 000261,506 261,506
Republic of Korea 000500,000 500,000
Switzerland 00508,1300 508,130
Myanmar subtotal 02,416,229827,8833,880,676 7,124,788
Australia 00766,284756,430 1,522,713
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 00500,0000 500,000
Denmark 00100,0000 100,000
Private donors in Philippines 00371,0160 371,016
Philippines subtotal 001,737,300756,430 2,493,729
Private donors in Thailand 4,322,969000 4,322,969
Thailand subtotal 4,322,969000 4,322,969
Total 157,691,8382,416,2296,974,83726,327,105 193,410,009
Latest contributions
  • 17-JUL-2019
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  • 11-JUL-2019
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    European Union
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  • 05-JUL-2019
  • 04-JUL-2019

    private donors

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  • 30-JUN-2019

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