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

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Central Asia

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2017 {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"budget":[22.88429304,18.10424758,16.60239248,14.66960535,14.67845337,8.95320574],"expenditure":[10.88408856,9.50114653,9.91686891,9.66512855,6.90699052,5.48594254]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[12.50670353,10.69836272,10.12037679,9.01942936,9.8489543,6.51823425],"p2":[2.87240321,3.36044574,4.0248484,3.9926304,4.82949907,2.43497149],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[7.5051863,4.04543912,2.45716729,1.65754559,null,null]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[5.69367151,6.13063122,5.58755005,5.26348795,4.07905485,3.56376437],"p2":[1.66234494,2.0418551,2.89679687,3.13810874,2.82793567,1.92217817],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[3.52807211,1.32866021,1.43252199,1.26353186,null,null]}
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People of Concern - 2017

[["Refugees",3518],["Asylum-seekers",754],["Returned refugees",1],["Stateless",108899],["Others of concern",2]]
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Response in 2017

In 2017, the population in Central Asia reached 70 million with a youth bulge as a leading challenge. Foreign investment and remittances from abroad decreased in most of the countries, impacting their economic growth. In this economic climate, outward labour migration continued. In the past few years, there has been steady improvement of relations among the Central Asian countries with the prospect of closer cooperation in the areas of security, trade and water-sharing. The evolving conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) continued to be perceived as a source of risk of terrorism and radicalisation, leading the governments to take tightened security measures.
At the end of 2017, Central Asia hosted some 3,500 refugees out of which 12 per cent (433 people) were recognized under UNHCR’s mandate. Some 500 new asylum applications were received across the sub-region, with the majority of asylum applications continuing to originate from Afghanistan.
The stateless population in the region stood at 108,900 persons. In 2017, some 17,400 stateless persons had their situations resolved, exceeding UNHCR’s set target. The largest number of resolved cases was in Tajikistan (11,750 people), followed by Turkmenistan (1,690), Kazakhstan (1,690), and Uzbekistan (750).

Access to the territories of Central Asian states by asylum-seekers remained an issue of concern to UNHCR due to the prevailing security-focused measures taken by the governments. UNHCR’s work focuses on advocacy and advising on how effective asylum-systems can also address the security concerns. The framework of the Almaty Process continued to be the main platform for UNHCR to engage authorities on asylum and refugee issues. Solutions for mandate refugees proved difficult to achieve due to gaps in legislation in the different countries.
The introduction of citizenship deprivation in the legislation of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan raised concerns of increased statelessness in Central Asia and abroad.


Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan did not register or adjudicate asylum applications in 2017.  In Turkmenistan, a verification of the mandate caseload was completed. UNHCR stepped up its efforts to identify an alternative stay arrangements in collaboration with the authorities on behalf of 23 people mandate refugees. A new law on refugees, one of the most progressive in the region, was adopted in Turkmenistan in June 2017.
UNHCR delivered multipurpose cash grants to the most vulnerable refugees in both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In 2017, Uzbekistan naturalized some 750 stateless persons. In June 2017, Uzbekistan issued a decree outlining procedures for grating political asylum.

Operational Environment and Strategy

No major political or security changes are expected in 2017, but the socio-economic context may deteriorate. Throughout the region security concerns and political interests prevail over humanitarian considerations to the detriment of people of concern to UNHCR. Regional governments are especially concerned over the situation in Afghanistan and the rising influence of extremism in traditionally underdeveloped and economically weak rural areas. The region also has high potential for sudden, large-scale displacement due to its vulnerability to natural disasters, and from inter-ethnic conflict. 

The latter is the result of a combination of poorly demarcated borders, and variances in the distribution of limited resources between and within States. This risk is especially prevalent in the Fergana Valley where Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan meet in an intricate weave of enclaves and exclaves. 

Central Asia is home to a considerable number of stateless people. Notable legislative achievements and measures for improved identification have led to some reduction in the numbers of stateless people. In four of five countries, some 11,000 people acquired or have had their citizenship confirmed in two years.  As of September 2016, 128,834 out of 130,000 people in the region are reported to be under UNHCR’s Statelessness mandate. Resolving statelessness effectively will require continued, concerted advocacy, support for States and additional resources. 

UNHCR in Central Asia has a sub-regional multiyear strategy with three objectives: 
1)    Improving national asylum systems (including preparedness and contingency plans); 
2)    Achieving solutions for refugees, with an emphasis on local integration; 
3)    Reduction and prevention of statelessness. 

Other regional priorities include access to territory through the establishment of referral mechanisms/border monitoring, including through the Almaty Process on Refugee Protection and International Migration, assistance to people with special needs, multi-purpose cash grants for vulnerable people through harmonized criteria. 

Emergency preparedness will remain an important activity, engagement continuing with relevant authorities and partners in preparedness and planning for the influx of refugees from Afghanistan to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Similarly, contingency planning for an outflow of refugees into Kyrgyzstan and for the movement of internally displaced people (IDPs) has been a key strategic pillar in Kyrgyzstan with the engagement of the Country Team and relevant authorities. 

Refugees in Central Asia reside in urban locations. They are relatively well integrated into host communities. Based on the outcomes of the 2016 comprehensive profiling of people of concern country offices continue to focus on strong advocacy for tailor-made solutions, with a focus on greater socio-economic integration and towards lawful stay with the acquisition of permanent residence permits. 
In September 2016 there are some 3,570 refugees in Central Asia requiring assistance from governments and the international community. 2017 will likely see an increase in refugees and asylum-seekers due to the possible increase in the latter from Tajikistan. The number of stateless people is expected to reduce by 20,000 by the end of 2017 as priority will be given to the resolution of statelessness situations for people identified between 2014 and 2016. 

The operational review undertaken in 2015 resulted in further rationalisation of the UNHCR operation in Central Asia, including reductions in posts in the Regional Office in Almaty, nationalization of the Representation in Kyrgyzstan by the end of 2016, and the closure of the office in Turkmenistan in June 2016.

Response and Implementation

Operations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are presented in separate country pages.

Since UNHCR no longer has staff based in Turkmenistan as of June 2016, the operation has been managed from the Regional Office in Almaty. In 2017, the main focus will be on advocacy for the amendment of refugee legislation, adoption by the State of referral mechanisms for any asylum-seekers at the border, and enhancement of the capacity of Government officials to comply with internationally accepted norms of refugee protection. Advocacy as well as technical advice and support for the continued reduction of statelessness, and resolution on the legal status of some 7,100 people without citizenship will similarly be priorities.

In Uzbekistan, 27 refugees will continue benefitting from UNHCR protection. A joint project by UNHCR and UNDP will focus on provision of assistance to 13 vulnerable individuals.

Along with Kyrgyzstan, the Regional Office will have an increased and more direct role in these countries.

2017 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

2017 Voluntary Contributions to Central Asia | USD

Earmarking / Donor All
Central Asia overall
United States of America 1,500,000 1,500,000
Central Asia overall subtotal 1,500,000 1,500,000
Kazakhstan Regional Office
Kazakhstan 111,963 111,963
Kazakhstan Regional Office subtotal 111,963 111,963
Kyrgyzstan 60,256 60,256
Kyrgyzstan subtotal 60,256 60,256
Total 1,672,219 1,672,219