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|2017 year-end results|
|100%||of refugee and asylum-seekers had access to primary health care|
|92%||refugee children were enrolled in primary and secondary education|
|11,750||stateless persons and individuals with undetermined nationality were assisted with confirmation of nationality|
|200||people of concern were provided with entrepreneurship/business training|
|100||refugee households received multipurpose cash grants|
|2018 planning figures|
|80%||of the existing refugee population de facto locally integrated in line with UNHCR benchmarks|
|80%||of refugees will be able to cover expenses for basic state-run health services without direct assistance from UNHCR partners|
|9,000||persons registered in three regions (Khatlon, Sugd, and Districts of Republican Subordination) will be assisted with confirmation of nationality|
People of Concern
There have been a positive atmosphere developing in Tajikistan’s relationship with its neighbours. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have begun working on strengthening transport and communication links; high level meetings took place between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, moving towards closer trade relations and communication links.
UNHCR continued focusing on three main areas; strengthening the national asylum system; emergency preparedness for the Afghanistan situation; solutions for refugees and stateless persons. Tajikistan was the first country in Central Asia to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention, and to adopt a national legislation which generally comports with international standards, UNHCR continues supporting the government in enhancing its capacity for refugee status determination and improving its administrative and legal framework. Tajikistan is yet to accede to the two Statelessness Conventions, although during 2017 the By-Laws were adopted and some positive advancements were made towards the adoption of the long waited Amnesty Law.
In line with existing inter-agency contingency planning figure, the UNHCR’s preparedness work contemplated a possible influx of 10,000 Afghan refugees primarily from the North-Eastern Kunduz provinces of Afghanistan. No significant cross-border movements were observed, despite multiple displacement occurred close to the Tajikistan border in 2017.
Significant advancements have been secured on emergency preparedness with a committed involvement of the Committee for Emergency and Civil Defence. An inter-agency simulation exercise was recently conducted to test the preparedness level in country between UN agencies, NGOs and relevant line ministries.
At the end of 2017, there were some 2,530 refugees, 440 asylum-seekers and 10,500 stateless persons in Tajikistan. Most of the refugees and asylum-seekers originated from Afghanistan. More than 1,140 asylum-seekers arrived in Tajikistan during 2017, a slight decrease from the 1,460 arrivals in 2016.
Close to 5,250 people with undetermined nationality were identified and registered in 2017. This brings the total number of stateless and persons with undetermined nationality registered between November 2014 and December 2017 to 29,500. The figures indicate that women and girls are most affected by statelessness, with 65 per cent of the registered population being female. This is due, in part, to the fact that women and girls have not been prioritized within families to secure documentation.
- In 2017, UNHCR with Sheraton Hotel launched an innovative initiative aiming to facilitate livelihoods opportunities for youth refugees and local communities through provision of assistance in the area of enhancing their professional knowledge, skills and possible employment opportunities. As a result 10 candidates, five refugees and five Tajik youths, were selected to be trained within the pilot Sheraton apprenticeship programme. The programme runs twice every year, for four months at a time, with spaces made available for refugee as well as vulnerable national youth. The pilot apprenticeship programme was launched in September 2017 and completed in January 2018.
- In 2017, the Government of Tajikistan adopted the by-laws to the 2015 Constitutional Law on Nationality that provide practical guidance on implementation of the Nationality Law. UNHCR provided expert support in drafting the documents. Since the Nationality Law outlines only a general framework on citizenship issues, in practice there was a gap on what procedures need to be followed by applicants and government officials while addressing nationality related matters. The Implementing Regulations are designed to address the gaps and set clear guidance on complete list of documents for submission, mandate and responsibilities of each government agency accepting and processing these documents, decision-making mechanism and authority on nationality-related issues, etc.
- Since the launch of the stateless campaign in late 2014 and up to the end of December 2017, some 29,530 persons with undetermined nationality and at risk of statelessness have been identified and registered in three pilot regions of Tajikistan, with 11,750 of them assisted with confirmation of nationality in 2017.
Unmet needsTo facilitate the process of documenting people identified in the course of pilot project, UNHCR provides financial support through partners to cover administrative fees and some transportation costs for the vulnerable families. Assessments showed that due to fees associated with citizenship confirmation vulnerable families are reluctant to proceed with their documentation issues. Thus, increased funding will allow smooth and timely support in solving documentation issues of these registered families falling under the project.
Working environmentThe Republic of Tajikistan sits at the crossroads between Afghanistan and Central Asia, and the operational context is largely shaped by the region’s complex geopolitics. As of September 2016, Tajikistan hosted some 2,500 refugees and 400 asylum-seekers and the total number of people with undetermined nationality registered in three pilot regions rose to 22,850 people, representing a fraction of the stateless population in the country.
In the south of the country, Tajikistan shares a long border with Afghanistan. In recent years, north-eastern Afghanistan has become an epicentre for increased insurgent activity, notably in Kunduz Province where the situation remains highly volatile. In the last seven months of 2016, over 800 new Afghan asylum-seekers arrived in Tajikistan, representing a significant spike in the rate of new arrivals in recent years. In regard to possible population displacement and influx of refugees from Afghanistan, UNHCR is working on an inter-agency contingency plan.
In the north of the country, Tajikistan forms part of the ethnically complex and historically volatile Fergana Valley, sharing an intricate web of borders, often disputed, with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. While Tajikistan’s internal security context remains stable and reasonably safe, the Government’s increasing focus on fighting domestic terrorism, often unclearly defined, has impacted the already fragile protection space for refugees and stateless people. Access to territory and sustainable livelihoods for refugees continue to be a challenge. Given the complexity of the statelessness issue and political challenges, addressing it will require UNHCR’s engagement for another 2-4 years with sustained resources.
Key prioritiesIn 2017, UNHCR’s operation in Tajikistan will focus on three strategic priorities:
• Strengthening the national asylum system and emergency preparedness, with a focus on Afghanistan;
• Achieving solutions for refugees, with an emphasis on local integration;
• Reducing and preventing statelessness.
UNHCR seeks to strengthen partnerships with the Government on border management and asylum procedures while moving towards phased disengagement in certain sectors, focussing efforts on livelihoods and alterative stay arrangements. In addressing statelessness, prioritized activities will include technical, legal and institution-building support to the Government of Tajikistan to implement existing and new legal provisions (Statelessness Conventions, Constitutional Law, Implementing regulations and Amnesty Law), and the National Action Plan on Addressing Statelessness aiming to achieve solutions for all people at risk of statelessness.
At the country level, the Office will focus on leveraging inter-agency partnerships to mainstream people of concern into existing partners’ programmes. Special efforts will be made to exploit inter-agency synergies in the context of National Development Strategy. The Office will also support key NGO partners to mobilise resources independently by advocating for direct donor funding.
Additional funds if secured would primarily be used for small-scale infrastructure projects and community-based initiatives in the context of peaceful coexistence and local integration.