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


Latest update of camps and office locations 21  Nov  2016. By clicking on the icons on the map, additional information is displayed.

  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion South East Asia

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2015 {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"budget":[109.712189803,170.05225616,159.04005036,169.348267493,139.74159814,132.31076247],"expenditure":[65.27725499,86.67864779,70.15169772,59.54246395,null,null]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[65.887160493,86.93198302,84.64840292,114.014204274,104.99428041,96.26437645],"p2":[12.66262066,15.84872147,16.99425914,20.40722544,7.33503241,11.02441297],"p3":[0.45499998,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[30.70740867,67.27155167,57.3973883,34.926837779,27.41228532,25.02197305]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[38.19299924,39.40045105,38.35734844,43.66420899,null,null],"p2":[7.65746913,7.40528991,7.95518218,6.57623988,null,null],"p3":[0.37040893,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[19.05637769,39.87290683,23.8391671,9.30201508,null,null]}
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People of Concern - 2017 [projected]

[["Refugees",519816],["Asylum-seekers",79584],["IDPs",502064],["Returned IDPs",345538],["Returned refugees",50000],["Stateless",1404795],["Others of concern",80574]]
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Operational Environment and Strategy

While only three countries in the subregion are signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, most generally respect the principle of non-refoulement.  UNHCR is endeavoring 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.  

The longstanding maritime movement of refugees and migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar to Malaysia through Thailand has not resumed since thousands were stranded in the Andaman Sea in May and June 2015. This has been the result of increased interception, an improved understanding of the risks, the lack of legal status in destination countries, and the increased risks and costs of the journey. 

With far-reaching social and political changes taking place in Myanmar, the possibility for solutions for refugees from this country is improving. Voluntary return is increasingly feasible for refugee populations in Malaysia, Thailand and other host countries. Long-standing resettlement patterns are changing, 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 three largest stateless populations. In 2016, Thailand endorsed UNHCR’s “#IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness” and adopted the policy goal of “zero statelessness”, making a series of changes to better integrate and increase acquisition of Thai nationality for stateless persons. Between 2012 and 2016, over 23,000 formerly stateless persons in Thailand acquired citizenship. 

Significant progress is also being made on the identification and reduction of statelessness in Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam, building on past successes. The Office will continue to encourage the development of a regional consensus on the need to address statelessness, in tandem with the development of the ASEAN Community 2015, including the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children and its Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. 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 to prevent statelessness will be promoted across the region, 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.

Response and Implementation

Operations in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand are presented in separate country pages. 

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 will maintain its presence and leadership of protection efforts for internally displaced people (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 Bangladesh, the Government census of “undocumented Myanmar nationals” is likely to dramatically increase the official number of forcibly displaced people in the country. UNHCR’s role and the protection and solutions options for the population of concern will become clearer through the course of the year, with the ultimate objective being to provide meaningful protection and other assistance to those most in need of it.
In Indonesia, UNHCR’s responsibilities for registration and refugee status determination will be accompanied by efforts to enhance temporary stay options for certain categories of refugees, such as those with strong family ties to Indonesia. The Office will advocate further expansion of accommodation options for unaccompanied children.
In Mongolia, UNHCR will build on the visit of the Regional Representative in late 2016 to improve mandate protection and solution options for refugees in the country.
Efforts in Viet Nam will focus on the prevention and reduction of statelessness by supporting the work of the Ministry of Justice in the border areas with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. UNHCR will also  review the nationality law and consider further improvements to close remaining gaps and bring the legislation in line with international standards.

2017 Budget for South East Asia | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Bangladesh 13,751,62914,2160013,765,846
Indonesia 7,173,89426,500007,200,394
Malaysia 18,008,274517,3140018,525,588
Myanmar 17,782,4897,868,719023,675,46849,326,676
Philippines 578,338751,47401,346,5052,676,318
Thailand 32,617,5741,174,5160033,792,090
Thailand Regional Office 6,352,179671,673007,023,852
Total 96,264,37611,024,413025,021,973132,310,762

2017 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 0009,450,000 9,450,000
South East Asia overall subtotal 0009,450,000 9,450,000
Canada 000237,640 237,640
European Union 2,228,134000 2,228,134
Japan 500,000000 500,000
Private donors in the Netherlands 1,659,432000 1,659,432
Bangladesh subtotal 4,387,56600237,640 4,625,206
European Union 58,850000 58,850
Private donors in Japan 55,748000 55,748
Private donors in Qatar 663,336000 663,336
Private donors in Singapore 300,000000 300,000
Malaysia subtotal 1,077,934000 1,077,934
Canada 000356,460 356,460
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 0853,111093,355 946,466
European Union 065,561369,579307,172 742,312
France 00300,0000 300,000
Japan 0575,1221,924,8780 2,500,000
Switzerland 000493,097 493,097
Myanmar subtotal 01,493,7942,594,4571,250,084 5,338,335
Private donors in Thailand 1,183,758000 1,183,758
Switzerland 000493,097 493,097
Thailand subtotal 1,183,75800493,097 1,676,855
Total 6,649,2581,493,7942,594,45711,430,820 22,168,330