UNHCR continues to operate in a constrained protection space, influenced predominantly by nationality security imperatives. With 1,300 km of shared border with Afghanistan, the Government continues to view all population movements, including asylum, through the national security lens, maintaining a closed border policy. A fragile economy, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue to affect the livelihoods of refugees and nationals alike into 2021. Against this background, UNHCR will continue advocating the harmonization of legislation and networking with the private sector to create opportunities for sustainable self-reliance for people of concern. At the same time, the Office will continue activities to reduce statelessness in 36 districts and 8 cities, also addressing new cases identified during the 2020 census.
Working within the UNDAF and building on the Government’s increasing commitment to align its national development strategy with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UNHCR mainstreamed people of concern into the Integrated Socio-Economic Response Framework to COVID-19 (ISEF), and advocates for inclusion of vulnerable people of concern into the state assistance schemes. In 2021, UNHCR will follow-up on the recommendations of a legal gap analysis, carried out in 2020 to identify barriers limiting access of people of concern to the state social disability funds.
In 2021, the Office will further reinforce inter-agency collaboration in the areas of solutions and emergency preparedness, engaging with the Government, UN agencies, international organizations, NGOs and civil society actors. UNHCR will maintain partnerships with private sector, notably Serena Hotel, Hyatt Hotel, Auchan Hypermarket and Coca Cola. The Office will also reinforce its partnerships with UNICEF and UNDP in the area of birth registration; UNFPA to follow up on census results; OSCE-BMSC to provide border staff with training on refugee and asylum issues; UN WOMEN to address statelessness among women.
The pandemic will continue to impact both the protection space and economic opportunities available to people of concern to UNHCR. Continued border closures will likely hinder the access to territory and asylum procedures. Employment and livelihood opportunities will be affected, triggering increased need for humanitarian assistance for affected populations.
Eradication and prevention of statelessness
UNHCR will focus on facilitating solutions for cases falling under the amnesty law as well as cases of persons at risk of statelessness, reducing the backlog of some 7,000 applications, and advocating legislative changes aimed at prevention of statelessness at birth.
Strengthening the asylum system and solutions for refugees
The Office will continue to advocate improved access to the territory and asylum procedures through proposed harmonization of legislation, a partnership with the border guards service and operationalization of national referral mechanism for asylum-seekers at the border. UNHCR will seek to improve the quality of asylum through continuous capacity building of State staff entrusted with refugee status determination (RSD); advocating for the Office to renew its role as an observer in the national RSD Commission; and enhancing its work with the judiciary. To foster integration opportunities, the Office will encourage the establishment of apprenticeship programmes and the inclusion of people of concern into national social protection schemes.
UNHCR will continue building the emergency response capacity of the Government to gradually take over the emergency preparedness component for a possible influx of 10,000 refugees.