South-West Asia

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

Subregion: South-West Asia


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion South-West Asia

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2017 {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"budget":[329.481794789,352.31783695,382.93488602,360.170297977,473.351600748,361.946634964],"expenditure":[193.78561689,162.67279337,158.90284611,156.55047551,288.75944655,158.34583653]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[150.610280829,157.79026509,184.60069642,198.064954557,332.70868251,240.902367764],"p2":[0.87699208,1.48910797,0.21242026,0.30424051,0.23462954,0.235],"p3":[106.40329508,125.47048328,120.93371852,106.53871565,92.349152539,98.82267524],"p4":[71.5912268,67.56798061,77.18805082,55.26238726,48.059136159,21.98659196]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[94.29274137,87.25259129,88.79105311,92.11479018,242.52296085,111.9619952],"p2":[0.87261709,0.0786895,0.18566753,0.2060976,0.15099556,0.13975851],"p3":[53.91192069,44.24040328,34.24658594,36.57175741,29.0479299,27.88620197],"p4":[44.70833774,31.1011093,35.67953953,27.65783032,17.03756024,18.35788085]}
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People of Concern - 2017

[["Refugees",2448506],["Asylum-seekers",3798],["IDPs",2011433],["Returned IDPs",314289],["Returned refugees",60568],["Others of concern",448032]]
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Response in 2017

Afghans are one of the largest protracted refugee populations of concern to UNHCR. Some 2.4 million registered Afghan refugees are hosted by the Islamic Republics of Iran (950,000 Amayesh card holders) and in Pakistan (1.4 million refugees holding Proof of Registration (PoR) cards).
Some 58,800 Afghan refugees, mostly from Pakistan, voluntarily return to Afghanistan under UNHCR’s-assisted voluntary repatriation programme.
High-level tripartite and quadripartite meetings took place on 30 November and 1 December between UNHCR and the Governments of the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan to discuss developments in the implementation of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and continued support to the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees.
In Afghanistan, in addition to providing a cash grant of an average of $ 200 per person through encashment centres, UNHCR continued to develop community-based protection projects in        23 locations of high return and displacement, benefitting close to 500,000 people. Cash and in-kind assistance were also provided to over 54,000 families during the winter and to 7,400 people with specific needs. Using regular mobile phone surveys, UNHCR is strengthening its protection monitoring.
The Government of Pakistan adopted a comprehensive policy on the voluntary repatriation and management of Afghan refugees in February 2017, extending the validity of Proof of Registration (PoR) cards until the end of 2017.  The policy foresees the adoption of a draft refugee law and the creation of asylum and migration management regimes, including visas for Afghans with specific profiles, such as visas for students, mixed marriage, business, skilled and unskilled labourers.  In line with this policy, the Government launched in July 2017 a programme to document the hitherto undocumented Afghans, concluded at the end of February 2018 with some 900,000 applications.
In spite of socio-economic challenges, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to host refugees and has also implemented progressive refugee policies especially in the areas of health and education: some 125,000 are now registered under the Universal Public Health Insurance scheme, which gives them access to the same level of services as Iranian nationals. Over 420,000 refugee children are enrolled in government primary and secondary schools. A headcount exercise targeting undocumented groups was initiated in 2017 as a step toward regularization, during which some 800,000 Afghans were pre-identified. Opportunities for resettlement and voluntary repatriation remained limited. While the Government has stated that voluntary repatriation is the preferred solution, due to the prevailing security conditions in Afghanistan, the number of refugees opting to return remain modest. It is expected that the Government will continue to respect the principle of voluntary return. The Government has been calling for an equitable responsibility and burden sharing. Absence of such enhanced support may have adverse effects on progressive policies towards refugees and migrants in Iran.

Operational environment and strategy

Operations in the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan are also presented in separate country pages. 

For decades, the Afghan situation has been among the most significant operations for UNHCR. Although more than 2.6 million Afghan refugees have found asylum in around 70 countries, 95 per cent of them continue to be hosted in the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan where, for almost four decades, they have benefited from protection, assistance and support. Both countries also host large numbers of undocumented Afghans – an estimated 1.5 to 2 million in the Islamic Republic of Iran and 1 million in Pakistan. Moreover, Afghans, including large numbers of separated and unaccompanied minors, continue to be one of the largest groups arriving in Europe.
Within Afghanistan, over 1.2 million people remain internally displaced. In addition to this protracted internally displaced population, more than 411,000 people have been displaced in 31 out of 34 provinces due to the ongoing conflict in 2016. Up to 56 per cent of these newly displaced people are under the age of 18.
Despite the complex political and security environment in Afghanistan, there has been a surge in the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan since July 2016. By the end of November 2016, over 368,000 Afghan refugees had returned from Pakistan. Estimations are that some 390,000 Afghan refugees in total will have returned, the overwhelming majority from Pakistan, by the end of 2016, with each returnee provided with a grant of $400 to facilitate transportation and support their integration or reintegration in Afghanistan. 
If this trend continues in 2017, the scope and pace of return would have a further severe impact on Afghanistan’s already limited absorption capacity. The Government of Pakistan has extended the validity of the proof of registration (PoR) cards issued to refugees until the end of March 2017. UNHCR continues to advocate for further extension of PoR cards and the adoption of a comprehensive policy on the management of Afghan refugees. UNHCR also works closely with host governments in the region, together with the Government of Afghanistan, to advocate for voluntary, dignified and phased returns. The Ad Hoc High Level Meeting of the Quadripartite Steering Committee in October 2016 reaffirmed the need to ensure that returns are voluntary, in safety and dignity as well as gradual, and in keeping with Afghanistan’s absorption capacity.
The “Solutions strategy for Afghan refugees to support voluntary repatriation, sustainable reintegration and assistance to host countries” (SSAR) continues to be a relevant regional framework to seek solutions for the Afghan refugees living in a protracted situation. However, the evolving situation inside Afghanistan in 2016 has hampered the attainment of durable solutions. In response to these developments, UNHCR developed a regional plan on building resilience and solutions for Afghan refugees in South-West Asia within the framework of the SSAR to be implemented throughout the region until the end of 2017.
The regional plan presents specific activities which will contribute to building resilience among Afghan refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities, and help find innovative solutions to their situation. These are articulated in five key areas: access to protection (legal and policy framework); access to basic services; youth empowerment through education, skills training and livelihoods support; durable solutions and advocacy; and coordination and partnership. Inside Afghanistan, the plan focuses on targeted assistance to the most vulnerable people of concern and local communities. A greater focus is put on support to refugees in hosting countries, Iran and Pakistan.
In response to the significant increase of Afghan refugee returns from Pakistan, UNHCR revised the Supplementary Appeal it issued in October 2016, updating it to include additional financial requirements to support increased returns. The revised appeal, which requests $181.2 million, also includes the needs of vulnerable returnees, IDPs, and support for host communities over the winter months.

2017 Budget and Expenditure in South-West Asia | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Afghanistan Budget
Islamic Republic of Iran Budget
Pakistan Budget
Total Budget

2017 Voluntary Contributions to South-West Asia | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
South-West Asia overall
Private donors in Germany 0001,374,964 1,374,964
United States of America 00059,100,000 59,100,000
South-West Asia overall subtotal 00060,474,964 60,474,964
Australia 2,000,000001,488,095 3,488,095
Austria 0001,161,440 1,161,440
Canada 0001,189,591 1,189,591
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 001,999,9890 1,999,989
China 0001,000,000 1,000,000
Denmark 1,400,0002,024,65800 3,424,658
European Union 5,379,9713,398,593819,7090 9,598,273
France 000250,000 250,000
Germany 565,7421,624,24900 2,189,991
Japan 1,943,3100414,4080 2,357,718
Luxembourg 000261,506 261,506
Mexico 00050,000 50,000
Norway 0001,755,413 1,755,413
Private donors in Japan 00271,9950 271,995
Private donors in the United States of America 71,332000 71,332
Republic of Korea 0003,000,000 3,000,000
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 0001,978,892 1,978,892
United States of America 00016,000,000 16,000,000
Afghanistan subtotal 11,360,3567,047,4993,506,10128,134,937 50,048,893
Islamic Republic of Iran
Australia 2,000,000000 2,000,000
Czech Republic 114,943000 114,943
Denmark 2,069,064000 2,069,064
European Union 5,873,257000 5,873,257
Germany 3,257,329000 3,257,329
Japan 2,903,493000 2,903,493
Norway 702,165000 702,165
Private donors in Islamic Republic of Iran 2,745000 2,745
Private donors in Japan 481,500000 481,500
Private donors in Qatar 1,498,221000 1,498,221
Russian Federation 100,000000 100,000
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 492,523000 492,523
Islamic Republic of Iran subtotal 19,495,238000 19,495,238
Canada 0001,486,989 1,486,989
Czech Republic 114,943000 114,943
Denmark 01,640,98200 1,640,982
European Union 3,900,532000 3,900,532
Germany 1,802,3123,427,28300 5,229,595
Italy 1,104,746198,57200 1,303,318
Japan 1,756,2182,140,00000 3,896,218
Luxembourg 000261,506 261,506
Norway 1,755,413000 1,755,413
Private donors in Germany 00053,203 53,203
Private donors in Italy 00032 32
Private donors in Japan 220,000000 220,000
Private donors in Qatar 1,768,438000 1,768,438
Private donors in the Netherlands 697,240000 697,240
Private donors in the Republic of Korea 5,884000 5,884
Private donors in the United States of America 1,846000 1,846
Switzerland 493,097000 493,097
UNAIDS 50,000000 50,000
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 518,568000 518,568
United States of America 0001,700,000 1,700,000
Pakistan subtotal 14,189,2367,406,83603,501,730 25,097,802
Total 45,044,83014,454,3353,506,10192,111,631 155,116,897