Russian Federation


Operation: Opération: Russian Federation



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
10,800 people of concern received legal aid and assistance through UNHCR and partners
2019 planning figures
100% of cases of potential refoulement will be prevented
100% of applicants will have access to refugee status determination procedures
10,000 refugees and asylum-seekers and 2,500 stateless persons will receive legal assistance
500 Governmental staff will be trained on refugee status determination procedures

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2018 154,489
2017 210,389
2016 322,856


[["Refugees",77397],["Asylum-seekers",1381],["Returned refugees",32],["Stateless",75679]]
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Russian Federation

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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[7.08626894,6.115651963,5.61137723,5.92628121,6.16493253,6.46120532],"expenditure":[4.81179465,3.81659835,4.32731972,4.61262595,4.54174449,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[6.39498853,5.432067327,5.18089139,5.28343456,5.27175105,5.58593035],"p2":[0.69128041,0.683584636,0.43048584,0.64284665,0.89318148,0.87527497],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[4.27754774,3.20615022,3.92720689,4.01735087,3.81139004,null],"p2":[0.53424691,0.61044813,0.40011283,0.59527508,0.73035445,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational environment

In the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) fully assumes the functions of the abolished Federal Migration Service regarding all aspects of migration and asylum. The size of the country and the decentralized MoI structures in the regions, across 11 time zones, renders UNHCR engagement complex and uneven. 
Asylum-seekers who entered irregularly the Russian Federation or overstayed their visa are often penalized. Persons in contravention with the provisions of the migration regime are frequently prosecuted before their asylum application is considered.
The President of the Russian Federation signed on 31 October 2018 a new Concept of the State Migration Policy for 2019-2025, which superseded the existing one drafted for the period 2012-2025. One of the aims of the new migration policy is to facilitate interaction across different ethnic groups, including migrants and refugees. The policy also foresees the development of institutes for the social and cultural adaptation/orientation of migrants, the establishment of simplified mechanisms for the issuance of visas and a number of options to obtain a residence permit or citizenship.
UNHCR’s protection interventions are focused on the provision of quality legal assistance through partners (including litigation) to ensure access to asylum procedures, rights and solutions, naturalization procedure for refugees and stateless persons, as well as the development of fair status determination and prevention of refoulement. UNHCR’s and its partners assisted asylum-seekers, Temporary Asylum (TA) holders and refugees in accessing asylum procedures and enjoy their rights.

Population trends

On 31 December 2018, according to the Russian Federation official statistics, there were close to 255,400 people of concern to UNHCR, including 570 refugees (including 140 non-Ukrainians), some 76,830 TA Holders (including 1,820 non-Ukrainians), and 178,000 stateless persons. Amongst these groups, 30 individuals were granted refugee status and some 6,010 Temporary Asylum (TA) in 2018.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The results of the 2010 all-country census revealed that 178,000 persons identified themselves as stateless but their actual legal status was never verified. The Ministry of Interior only keeps data of those who approached its territorial branches and obtained either permission for temporary stay or residence permits. UNHCR estimated that as of 2018 some 75,680 stateless persons are living in the Russian Federation.

Key achievements

 Through its partners, UNHCR ensured access to free of charge legal aid for asylum-seekers and stateless persons in 37 counselling points across 34 regions of the Russian Federation.  
An inter-agency Working Group on Employment was formed in 2018 to raise awareness of employers regarding refugees’ rights to access employment. Discussions were also initiated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Moscow and Moscow region to identify ways to improve access to employment.
UNHCR continued to facilitate the release and legalization of stateless persons, including from the 22 pre-removal detention centres. The Ministry of Interior supported and facilitated UNHCR’s involvement in helping stateless persons in detention. As a result, 331 stateless persons were assisted with obtaining permission for temporary stay, residence permits and citizenship and 70 were released from detention.
The successful cooperation on asylum and stateless laws with educational establishments was further developed, with an emphasis on increasing awareness and practical skills of students engaged in the work of legal clinics supporting UNHCR’s persons of concern

Unmet needs

In the absence of a pro-bono legal aid system for people of concern, additional funding would enable an increase of the geographic coverage of free legal aid. It would also allow provision of socio-economic assistance to more persons of concern, pending the outcome of the asylum procedures and identification of solutions.
Lack of shelters for people with specific needs such as LGBTI or survivors of SGBV is a serious challenge. The state-provided shelters, which are very few, accommodate only Russian citizens or foreigners with legal status and residence registration in Moscow. Apart from a few church-ran shelters that serve the most marginalized, there are no options for adult persons of concern. Accommodation in the state-ran Temporary Accommodation Centres in remote locations is available by law only for a limited number of people of concern with vulnerable profiles.

Working environment

Since the outbreak of the conflict in south-eastern Ukraine in April 2014, over 1 million Ukrainians had sought asylum or other forms of legal stay in the Russian Federation by mid-2017. The Government continues to lead the operational response to the needs of arrivals from Ukraine.
Newly-arrived asylum-seekers from countries other than Ukraine sometimes face difficulties with access to territory and to asylum procedures. They also experience longer waiting periods and are exposed to risks associated with the absence of documentation, including deportation and detention.
While local integration is generally an option available to Ukrainian refugees, it remains problematic for other population groups due to absence of governmental programmes to assist refugees with accommodation, employment, language, and overcoming legal/bureaucratic obstacles and incidents of xenophobia.

Access to education remains challenging for refugees and asylum-seekers due to lack of proper documentation for admission to public schools.
UNHCR will continue working with the authorities to improve access to and quality of the national status determination procedure and promote integration opportunities for recognized refugees and temporary asylum holders. UNHCR ensures individual legal assistance and counselling through partner organizations and lobbies for individual cases before national courts and, in selected cases, with the European Court for Human Rights. In addition, the Office pursues resettlement of refugees who, for various reasons, cannot find protection and achieve integration in the Russian Federation.
By law, applicants for refugee status, holders of temporary asylum and refugees in the Russian Federation are entitled to free medical care. However, UNHCR also provides assistance through its partners to applicants who face difficulties accessing this entitlement or who have serious health problems that are not covered by the obligatory insurance.
The number of stateless persons in the country is progressively reducing due to a number of legislative changes. However the problem has not yet been fully resolved and the estimated stateless population stands at just over 70,000. UNHCR continues to implement awareness-raising activities and to provide legal assistance through partner organizations for people seeking to regularize their status, and stands ready to provide relevant support to the Government.

Key priorities

In 2018, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Promoting unhindered access to the territory for asylum-seekers,  including through the establishment of cooperation with the Border Guards Service;
  • Working with migration service staff to improve reception conditions and temporary accommodation centres;
  • Providing capacity building for government officials to ensure access to quality refugee status determination procedures and individual documentation;
  • Building partners’ capacity to provide quality legal services to asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons;
  • Supporting the Government in developing integration programmes for recognized refugees and temporary asylum status holders, while promoting the removal of legal and practical barriers to integration;
  • Promoting  accession to international instruments, as well as legislative developments to further reduce and prevent statelessness;
  • Working with the authorities to facilitate naturalization procedures for refugees and stateless people and advocate for their access to social services.
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

  • European Union
  • Japan
  • 03-JUL-2019
  • 02-JUL-2019
  • 30-JUN-2019

    private donors

  • Argentina
  • Sweden

    private donors

  • Spain
  • Oman

    private donors

  • United Arab Emirates

    private donors

  • Kuwait

    private donors

  • Saudi Arabia

    private donors