Operation: Opération: Tajikistan



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
4,224 persons with undetermined nationality received assistance in confirmation of nationality and obtained identity documents
2,034 people of concern to UNHCR benefitted from legal assistance
1,116 stateless persons registered under Amnesty Law
1,110 refugee children enrolled in primary and secondary education
1,061 employed and/or involved in income generation activities
845 refugees received free medical consultations
414 households received cash assistance interventions under COVID-19 response plan
22 22 districts and 7 cities covered under statelessness reduction activities
2021 planning figures
20,000 people of concern will receive advice on acquisition or confirmation of nationality
7,000 stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness will be assisted with confirmation of nationality
1,100 refugee children will be enrolled in primary education
800 people of concern to UNHCR will have access to legal assistance
360 refugees and asylum-seekers will benefit from cash assistance
240 people of concern will be provided with entrepreneurship / business training

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 12,381
2019 12,355
2018 7,588


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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

The operational environment in Tajikistan continued to be impacted by complex geopolitical dynamics, prompting the Government to maintain a restrictive border policy. Even though Tajikistan is yet to accede to the two statelessness conventions, the Government has rendered full support towards statelessness reduction and prevention, including further expansion of the statelessness identification project, now covering 22 districts and 7 cities.

Protection space continued to be fragile combined with lack of access to the state refugee status determination procedure by UNHCR for quality assessment.

Socioeconomic inclusion processes for people of concern were drawn back as a result of COVID-19 which also negatively impacted protection outreach activities and access to territory. Pandemic has further deepened entrenched vulnerabilities of all people of concern to UNHCR, including loss of daily incomes and livelihoods. UNHCR had to re-prioritise all planned activities and direct the resources to mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable people of concern, including through provision of cash to cover basic needs; provision of food packages to maintain the nutritional balance; support to health sector, including dissemination of personal protective equipment. Despite the COVID-19 prioritised response, the Office strived to continue its refugee and statelessness protection advocacy to the extent possible and managed to achieve tangible results. As part of the United Nations Country Team, UNHCR contributed to updating the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which was extended until 2022 and ensured inclusion of refugee and statelessness issues into Integrated Socio-Economic Response Framework to COVID-19 and Common Country Analysis. 

Population trends

By the end of 2020 the total number of refugees stood at 5,581 against 3,791 reported in 2019. The Government reported some 1,000 new arrivals during the year, and 218 families applied for asylum. In 2019, some 3,200 new arrivals were reported and almost 650 families applied for asylum, almost all originating from Afghanistan. The decrease in number of new arrivals can be attributed to the border closure since March 2020 due to COVID-19.
Refugees and asylum-seekers mostly reside in urban areas, excluding big cities, such as Dushanbe and Khujand, as prescribed by the Government Resolution #325 - determining the areas where refugees and asylum- seekers can live. Data reporting by the Government continued to be a challenge. The data shared by the Government includes only asylum applications filled by the heads of households with estimated family size of five, and refugee cards are issued to adult family members only. The number of refugees processed for resettlement to Canada under private sponsorship programme stood at 119 persons in 2020, while 21 persons voluntarily returned to Afghanistan with UNHCR’s support. 3,456 persons with undetermined nationality were registered and processed in 2020, of whom 70% were female. The number of those for whom citizenship was confirmed in 2020 reached 4,224. The number of persons falling under the scope of the Amnesty Law and identified in 2020 stood at 1,036 out of which 663 cases were submitted for solutions with 79 confirmed.

Key achievements

  • COVID-19 prevention and response activities took place, such as the inclusion of 300 vulnerable refugees in the national one-time social assistance, provision of food assistance and personal protective equipment to 5,100 refugees, procurement of laboratory items for the local clinics and awareness-raising activities. 
  • Amendment of Article 499 of the Administrative Code, abolishing deportation of people of concern for the breach of rules of residence.
  • Facilitated completion of Census with included statelessness related question.
  • Provision of 5 dactyloscopy machines and 5 computers with installed database to Passport Registration Services for registration of stateless persons and those at risk
  • 4,224 persons were supported with citizenship confirmation.
  • Expanded private partnership for livelihood opportunities.
  • 414 households received cash assistance as part of COVID-19 response plan, including support to 298 households with children to cover education needs and ensure retention.
  • Supported capacity-building of Government officials working on refugee status determination procedures through various learning programmes.
As a result of cooperation with the Government, the Office has enacted working plan with the Passport Registration Service for implementation of the Amnesty Law, also further expanding identification activities, targeting 22 districts and 7 cities. In the course of 2020, Tajik nationality was confirmed to 4,224 persons and 76 persons regularized their stay under Amnesty Law through residency permits. 

Unmet needs

Despite UNHCR’s continuous lobbying to reinstate UNHCR’s observer status in State refugee status determination Commission, the request is yet to be considered. Implementation of referral mechanism for asylum-seekers at the border has not materialised due to the pending signing of MoU with Border Guards Service. Resolutions 325 continued adversely impacting refugees’ livelihoods. Even though deportation clause was abolished in Article 499, those people of concern to UNHCR who violate the rule of stay prescribed by the Resolution 325 continue facing the risk of high fines and harassment from law enforcement bodies. The harmonisation of Criminal Code and Refugee Law about non-penalisation clause for illegal border crossing is still pending. Legal status of mandate refugees continued to be an issue and it became even more acute during COVID-19, as due to the peculiar status, despite the existing vulnerabilities, this group could not benefit from State’s social assistance schemes. Vulnerabilities of refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons deepened even more due to COVID-19 making them fully dependent on humanitarian assistance, which was not enough to cover the needs of all. Persons at risk of statelessness had to prioritise their expenses to cover basic nutritional needs against the covering documentation fees.

There remain challenges from the Executive Apparatus of the President to greenlight further expansion to Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region Rasht areas. Universal birth registration under Civil Registration Law continued to be a gap, which the Office will continue lobbying to bridge jointly with UNICEF. 

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected livelihoods, education, and health, keeping people of concern to UNHCR dependent on humanitarian assistance. UNHCR had to de-prioritize some advocacy and capacity-building initiatives and direct resources to COVID-19 response. Thanks to the flexible nature of the funding, which amounted to over USD 1.7 million in 2020, the Office was able to redirect funds to cover humanitarian needs of people of concern, targeting the most vulnerable. Redirected and additional unearmarked funding enabled provision of multipurpose cash assistance to 2,277 refugees and asylum-seekers; assisting 454 children to cover education needs; receiving support in form of food packages and personal protective equipment for 5,560 individuals (5,100 Refugees and asylum-seekers, and 460 stateless persons).

Working environment

The operational environment in Tajikistan is characterised by complex geopolitical factors influenced by Fergana Valley that saddles across eastern Uzbekistan, southern Kyrgyzstan and northern Tajikistan, an area characterised as ethnically complex and historically volatile. Multiple cross-border activities take place by the border with Afghanistan, and worsening situation in Afghanistan can lead to increased population displacement within and out of the country.

Since the renewal of relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan early 2018, a new chapter of relations between those countries began with prominent interactions between the national security ministries and first-ever joint military exercise, abolishing visas for short-term visitors and re-opening of more than 10 border crossing points. China is among Tajikistan’s three largest trade partners and supports country’s efforts in preserving national security, stability and economic development. National security concerns of Tajikistan continue to infuse refugee issues resulting in deportations, arbitrary detention, extortion and abuse of refugees thus affecting protection space.

Key priorities

There are total 3,019 people of concern to UNHCR in Tajikistan. 2,657 are refugees (including 177 mandate refugees and 53 mandate asylum-seekers) and 362 are asylum-seekers who have applied for refugee status with the government. Data reporting continues to be irregular, as the Government counterparts share statistical information on an ad-hoc basis with emphasis on the number of applications. UNHCR’s partners report higher figures, however figures from remote locations require verification. The Office will work closely with the Department of Citizenship and Work with Refugees (DCWR) under the developed work plan and will support the Temporary Accommodation Centre (TAC) to get more reliable data, as well as continue partnerships with NGOs to monitor the numbers of those registered with them prior to submitting application to DCWR.
The 2020 planning on solutions for refugees and asylum-seekers is based on results achieved in previous years, such as through an MoU with Ministry of Internal Affairs on operationalisation of Temporary Accommodation Centre for asylum-seekers; a work plan and enhanced cooperation with DCWR as the main entity responsible of refugee and asylum issues; utilisations of Almaty Process platform for operationalisation of Referral Mechanism at the Border; expanded networking with private sector for sustainable self-reliance; continued inter-agency cooperation on mainstreaming refugees and emergency preparedness. Enhanced cooperation with the Executive Apparatus of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan resulted in development of joint work plan with the Apparatus and National Centre for Legislation, which, along other activities, undertook the gap analysis of national asylum framework with recommendations to be followed in 2020. Cooperation will also continue with the Government bodies to further strengthen capacity of partners to respond to potential emergencies in the border with Afghanistan. 

As for reduction and prevention of statelessness, the Government demonstrates greater commitment to address statelessness through the expansion of identification and solution exercise to eight new regions in 2019 and to another eight regions in 2020. The activity included joint component with UNICEF to ensure birth certification for at least 2,500 children under UNHCR-UNICEF joint strategy for addressing childhood statelessness under the Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality (2018-2020). Legislation harmonisation exercise will be undertaken, including adoption of Amnesty Law, as per recommendations set in gaps analysis carried out in 2018.
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