Eastern Europe

Operational information on the Eastern Europe subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format. This subregion covers the following countries:

| Armenia | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Georgia | Russian Federation | Turkey | Ukraine

Subregion: Eastern Europe


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Eastern Europe

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2017 {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"budget":[115.65619943,270.95338247,373.29339842,420.086669828,423.24577262,429.650058418],"expenditure":[66.62675063,93.80871945,129.57658867,127.2709373,168.29172532,186.91989969]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[99.81453782,254.58595382,348.65309119,370.486506469,379.8935932,392.981355428],"p2":[2.4645976,3.29116795,3.22419003,2.750744475,2.21052703,2.11277392],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[13.37706401,13.0762607,21.4161172,46.849418884,41.14165239,34.55592907]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[58.55360196,87.06124285,114.93678843,98.15642826,144.86997663,166.23009045],"p2":[1.56906292,1.55514895,1.28411391,1.14276108,1.01061833,1.44116086],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[6.50408575,5.19232765,13.35568633,27.97174796,22.41113036,19.24864838]}
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People of Concern - 2017

[["Refugees",3618198],["Refugee-like situation",15187],["Asylum-seekers",318385],["IDPs",2690888],["Returned refugees",13],["Stateless",133080]]
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Response in 2017

With the unresolved conflicts in the region, security considerations continue to permeate all dimensions of foreign and local policy-making, including migration and asylum policies. UNHCR advocated for access to territory and to asylum procedures across the sub region. UNHCR continued to support the eradication of statelessness and advocated for accession to relevant international instruments, particularly in Belarus as the government is planning to make this step in the near future.
Daily ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh region continued to be reported by both parties to the conflict throughout the year and resulted in casualties. Nevertheless, the status-quo was maintained and no new displacement occurred. Despite political initiatives under the leadership of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, no breakthrough was achieved as to the resolution of the conflict, thus contingency planning and emergency preparedness remained high on the agenda.
Through the Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus (QIEE), UNHCR continued to support governments in enhancing the quality of their asylum systems. The target groups of the initiative were expanded to include the first instance decision makers, the judiciary, border guards and legal practitioners.
The total number of people of concern in the sub region reached nearly 3 million by the end of the year. This comprises 152,636 refugees (including 123,600 Ukrainians refugees in Russia); around 10,000 asylum-seekers; close to 2.7 million IDPs (600,000 in Azerbaijan,  278,000 in Georgia, and some 1.8 million in Ukraine); more than 128,000 stateless persons (82,000 in Russia, 35,300 in Ukraine, 6,000 in Belarus, and 3,600 in Azerbaijan). In addition, there are some 136,400 Ukrainian refugees and close to 17,800 Ukrainians with their asylum claims pending by the end of 2017 in neighbouring countries and the European Union.


Operations in the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine are presented in separate country chapters. Other UNHCR operations in the subregion are presented below.

Armenia continued to host some 14,000 Syrian refugees. The Government adopted the ‘National Action Plan on the Effective Implementation of the Strategy for the Migration Policy of the Republic of Armenia for 2017-2021’, to which UNHCR contributed. Significant progress was made towards self-reliance and integration of Syrian refugees in Armenia due to a combination of macro-economic measures (tax reduction and small and medium-sized enterprises promotion), migration policy adjustments enhancing tourism (e.g. visa liberalization) and economic integration projects offered by development and diaspora organizations and UNHCR. UNHCR also provided technical assistance to the reception facilities that have been established at three border-crossing checkpoints and supported in referring cases to authorities. Moreover, several trainings on statelessness were organized for State authorities and partners.
In Azerbaijan, through government capacity-building, UNHCR continued its efforts to improve quality of the refugee status determination process. Furthermore, the efforts focused on reforming legislation to expand the protection space, including ensuring refugees’ access to rights and services while continuing to ensure basic needs of refugees are met and exploring all opportunities for their integration. UNHCR conducted a workshop on integration and jointly developed a roadmap on integration in support of the Government decision to establish an inter-ministerial working group aimed at introducing amendments to the legislation for access of refugees to labour and social rights. In 2017, the primary health care of refugees and asylum-seekers was handed over to the Government, while UNHCR focused on the referral of a number of cases. Under the project with the Japanese Fuji Optical Co, around 2,300 IDPs received eyesight check-up.
In Belarus, UNHCR worked to identify and provide targeted assistance to the most vulnerable among new arrivals from Ukraine. The office also strengthened border and detention monitoring. UNHCR strengthened its local integration activities, including facilitating access to the labour market and reinforced partnerships with the private sector. A series of thematic round-tables targeting employers gathered and connected some 100 representatives of unions of employers, business communities, enterprises and people of concern. With the new version of the law on asylum and statelessness entered into force in 2017, almost all rejection grounds not in line with the 1951 Convention were eliminated, and refugees were granted access to both emergency and regular medical care.
In Georgia, the new asylum law and the subsequent by-laws entered into force in February 2017, bringing the national system in line with the international standards. Despite the recognition rate remaining low, the overall quality of the administrative decisions was maintained, and the number of positive decisions taken by the courts increased. As of April 2017, a governmental integration centre started functioning; aiming at further strengthening access to socio-economic rights, the government ensured inclusion of refugees and humanitarian status holders into the existing national social assistance scheme as of December 2017. UNHCR continued to advocate for shifting the Government assistance to IDPs from status to needs-based, and mainstreaming IDPs into the national social welfare system and socio-economic development strategies. A National Action Plan on Ending Statelessness was finalized in 2017 with action points being included in the 2018 Migration Action Plan adopted by the State Commission on Migration Issues.
In all UNHCR operations in the sub region, funding shortfall led to inadequate subsistence allowances and very strict targeting of cash and non-cash assistance. It also limited the implementation of livelihoods and basic-needs, including health care and education interventions for the most vulnerable.

Operational Environment and Strategy

There are significant populations of concern to UNHCR in various countries in Eastern Europe, including refugees, returnees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and stateless people. UNHCR works to ensure that all people of concern receive protection, live in safety and dignity together with host communities, and progressively attain lasting solutions.
UNHCR supports the continued strengthening of asylum systems in the context of mixed movements. UNHCR advocates access to territory and fair and impartial asylum procedures, and remains concerned about the reliance on national security as grounds for rejection of asylum applications in some instances. Integration opportunities for refugees remain limited, in part due to the difficult economic situation, lack of integration support mechanisms, and incidents of xenophobia.
UNHCR supports the second phase of the Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus (QIEE) in 2015-2017, focusing on enhancing the quality of refugee status determination (RSD) procedures and related processes. A UNHCR regional protection support hub located in Tbilisi, Georgia, provides expertise and advice on a range of protection issues - including RSD and resettlement - to all the countries in the subregion.
Some countries in Eastern Europe have made significant advances in recent years in terms of aligning national legislation and procedures on asylum and statelessness issues with international standards. However, statelessness remains an ongoing challenge in the subregion and UNHCR continues to support and advocate measures to combat statelessness.
The conflicts in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and Ukraine continue to impact the subregion. UNHCR closely monitors the situation of internally displaced Ukrainians, as well as the more than 1.4 million Ukrainians seeking asylum or other forms of legal stay in neighbouring countries and other countries in Europe.  
Unresolved conflict in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia continues to lead to displacement. While the needs of the displaced are gradually being met, many people of concern are still in need of durable solutions.
In 2017, UNHCR’s work in Eastern Europe will focus on:
  • Strengthening national asylum systems to ensure that people of concern to UNHCR have access to protection;
  • Supporting access to durable solutions for refugees, primarily through local integration and, where appropriate, resettlement and voluntary repatriation;
  • Supporting government actions for and accountabilities to all people of concern, especially IDPs;
  • Strengthening national legislation and procedures to prevent and reduce statelessness, and advocating accession to the two statelessness conventions;
  • Assisting people of concern with specific needs, while working to facilitate access to livelihoods for all people of concern.

Reponse and Implementation

Operations in the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine are presented in separate country pages.

In Belarus, the effects of the situation in Ukraine will continue to be felt in 2017. About 139,000 Ukrainians had arrived in Belarus by mid-2016. Some 5,600 stateless people and 2,300 refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Syrian Arab Republic, were also present in Belarus. In 2017, UNHCR will support efforts to strengthen the asylum system and provide protection. Activities will include: monitoring the application of the 1951 Convention and national asylum legislation; provision of legal and technical assistance to the Government; building capacity of Government departments dealing with statelessness; ensuring full and unhindered access to territory and RSD procedures; prevention of refoulement; and enhancing local integration capacity.
Armenia has been significantly impacted by the arrival of Syrian refugees in recent years, and some 14,000 Syrian nationals of Armenian origin remained in the country as at mid-2016. The most vulnerable Syrians will continue to benefit from support provided by UNHCR, in cooperation with the Government and NGOs, including in terms of accommodation.
As of mid-2016, some 1,300 refugees, 260 asylum-seekers, 3,600 stateless people, and 623,000 IDPs were present in Azerbaijan. UNHCR will continue to cooperate with the Government to strengthen implementation of international legal instruments; improve the national legislative framework; develop Government action plans aimed at achieving solutions for people of concern; improve the national asylum procedure; ensure access to basic services and the labour market for all people of concern; and advocate for a rights-based approach to meeting the needs of IDPs.
In Georgia, UNHCR will support efforts by relevant stakeholders to protect, integrate and improve living conditions for displaced populations. As of mid-2016, some 2,000 refugees and people in refugee-like situations, 600 asylum-seekers, 600 stateless people, and 274,000 IDPs (including people in an IDP-like situation in Abkhazia) were present in Georgia. UNHCR will seek to ensure that people of concern are informed of their rights, improve access to State services, and expand ongoing socio-economic support based on a combination of livelihood and cash-based interventions, as well as social cohesion projects. Legal aid and counselling will continue to be provided to both refugees and IDPs, and the Office will carry out monitoring of reception conditions and access to territory. UNHCR will seek to strengthen the quality of national asylum procedures through capacity development activities and advocate a needs-based approach to assisting IDPs.


2017 Budget and Expenditure in Eastern Europe | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Belarus Budget
Regional Office in the South Caucasus Budget
Russian Federation Budget
Turkey Budget
Ukraine Budget
Total Budget

2017 Voluntary Contributions to Eastern Europe | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Private donors in the United States of America 62,18600 62,186
Belarus subtotal 62,18600 62,186
Regional Office in the South Caucasus
Armenia 00103,000 103,000
Azerbaijan 6,67200 6,672
Private donors in Japan 0180,9260 180,926
Regional Office in the South Caucasus subtotal 6,672180,926103,000 290,598
Canada 1,886,79200 1,886,792
European Union 43,774,21000 43,774,210
France 1,628,66400 1,628,664
Germany 22,869,39200 22,869,392
Japan 5,378,17500 5,378,175
Norway 1,543,61200 1,543,612
Private donors in Germany 0021,209 21,209
Republic of Korea 1,000,00000 1,000,000
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 496,212020,702 516,914
United States of America 46,600,00005,300,000 51,900,000
Turkey subtotal 125,177,05705,341,911 130,518,968
Canada 00743,494 743,494
Estonia 0448,4250 448,425
European Union 04,385,4240 4,385,424
Germany 01,711,4240 1,711,424
Japan 0325,9500 325,950
Norway 01,185,9580 1,185,958
Private donors in Germany 070,2770 70,277
Private donors in Japan 0500,6060 500,606
Private donors in Switzerland 0018 18
Private donors in the United States of America 0030 30
Russian Federation 0250,0000 250,000
Sweden 01,106,3170 1,106,317
United States of America 003,600,000 3,600,000
Ukraine subtotal 09,984,3804,343,543 14,327,923
Total 125,245,91510,165,3069,788,454 145,199,675