Operation: Russian Federation
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|2019 year-end results|
|5,700||individuals benefitted from over 20,400 legal consultations with UNHCR and partners|
|100%||of vulnerable people of concern identified for resettlement were submitted for resettlement|
|70%||of people of concern had access to primary health care|
|65%||of people of concern had access to status determination procedures|
|55%||of people of concern obtained favorable outcomes in naturalization procedures|
|2020 planning figures|
|9,000||refugees and asylum-seekers receive legal assistance|
|2,500||stateless persons receive legal assistance|
|250||people of concern provided with legal advice for accessing work opportunities|
|70||families with school-aged children out of school identified|
People of Concern
Operational contextThe Government of the Russian Federation continued to implement the “Concept of the State migration policy” endorsed by the President in October 2018. The objective of the policy was to encourage the immigration of people with a Russian or Soviet background and highly skilled workers to the country. Regulated migration management remained one of the highest priorities of the Government due to the country’s size and the number of States with which it shares its borders.
UNHCR’s good working relations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Ministry of Interior (MoI) resulted in further progress on the issue of statelessness, such as a steady release of stateless persons from detention, as well as participation in the high-level segment on statelessness in 2019 (albeit without pledges). The Russian Federation was also represented at the first Global Refugee Forum, although no pledges were made.In 2019, the Government allocated substantial resources to meet the international protection and assistance needs of Ukrainian nationals. Positive trends were observed with the local integration of refugees and temporary asylum (TA) status holders through granting of temporary residence permits, residence permits and citizenship. Recognition rates, however, decreased for some nationalities during the year (from 83% to 56% for Yemenis; and from 53% to 44% for Syrians); while they improved by 4% for Afghans and some 23% for Georgian nationals.
Population trendsAccording to Government reports, the Russian Federation hosted some 112,100 people of concern in 2019, of whom 38% were refugees, 37% held a TA status and 0.4% had Convention refugee status.
A large majority of TA status holders (some 96%) were from Ukraine while the remaining 4% were Syrian, Afghan, Georgian and Yemeni nationals. With regards to refugee status, some 76% were Syrian, Afghan, Georgian, Yemeni and other nationals, while 24% of refugee status holders were Ukrainian nationals.
In addition to some 42,400 refugees, the Russian Federation hosted almost 1,500 asylum-seekers and some 68,200 stateless persons.
- UNHCR strengthened its advocacy for the inclusion of children of concern in local schools.
- As part of cooperation with universities and legal clinics, several legal courses on asylum and statelessness were conducted for students and professors from universities across the Russian Federation.
- Protection interventions focused on the provision of quality legal assistance through partners (including litigation) to ensure access to: the asylum procedure; rights and solutions; naturalization procedures for refugees and stateless persons; fair status determination and prevention of refoulement and detention; and resettlement of extremely vulnerable cases. Basic material, social, psychological and medical assistance for very vulnerable people of concern was maintained.
- An inter-agency working group on employment supported people of concern to access employment opportunities and facilitated their access to labor markets through proactive engagement with relevant ministries.
- The operation engaged in dialogue with a range of national, regional and international stakeholders throughout the year. UNHCR participated in the first Russia-Africa Forum and, in the lead-up to the GRF, held a briefing for parliamentarians of the State Duma and the Council of Federations.
- The Russian Federation is a large country with a complex administrative structure. With the operation funded at 71% by the end of 2019, UNHCR was unable to ensure adequate advocacy and awareness-raising interventions, nor legal and social assistance across all regions.
- In the absence of a pro bono system, adequate resources would allow UNHCR to support more counselling points in the regions where such assistance is required.
Operational EnvironmentWhile is it reported that since 2014 over 400,000 Ukrainian came to the Russian Federation, as of 1 July 2018, some 102,000 Ukrainians have refugee status or Temporary Asylum (TA). As of 1 July 2018, there are also some 2,650 refugees and TA holders which are not from Ukraine who are benefiting from international protection in the Russian Federation.
The positive and proactive protection environment for Ukrainians who are provided a legal status and documentation is not equally enjoyed by asylum-seekers from other countries who often face difficulties in accessing asylum procedures. Non-Ukrainians experience longer waiting periods and are exposed to risks associated with the absence of documentation and legal status in the Russian Federation, including detention and deportation. While local integration is possible for Ukrainian refugees, it remains challenging for non-Ukrainian asylum seekers to access refugee status determination procedures, to obtain migration registration, legal employment and integration. Refugees and asylum-seekers are also requested proper documentation to be admitted in public schools and therefore non-Ukrainians refugee children face challenges in accessing education.
In 2019, UNHCR will continue to develop its partnership with the Government to improve access to and quality of the national status determination procedure and promote integration opportunities for recognized refugees and temporary asylum holders. Individual legal assistance and counselling will support individual cases before the national courts and, in selected cases, with the European Court for Human Rights.
While by law refugees and TA holders are entitled to free medical care, several categories of people of concern face difficulties. Therefore, UNHCR continues to provide assistance through its partners to vulnerable people facing difficulties accessing this entitlement or with serious health problems that are not covered by the obligatory insurance.
The number of stateless persons in the country is slowly reducing due to positive legislative changes. The estimated stateless population stands at just over 79,000. UNHCR will continue to provide legal assistance to people of concern seeking to regularize their status, including those in pre-removal detention centres; and engage the Government in regional and global dialogues on the reduction of statelessness.
Key prioritiesIn 2019, UNHCR will focus on:
- Pursuing efforts to maintain a dialogue with relevant governmental partners in order to ensure support for UNHCR’s objectives and activities globally and within the Russian Federation;
- Maintaining protection interventions, counselling and litigation to address gaps in the access to asylum procedures, fair status determination and prevention of refoulement. Working with asylum authorities and courts to promote positive asylum policies, continuing to engage with universities and the Ombudsman’s Offices to raise awareness on asylum issues.
- Continuing to offer limited social, material and medical assistance to the most vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers;
- Promoting accession to international instruments, as well as legislative developments to further reduce and prevent statelessness and render legal advice to stateless persons;
- Working with the authorities to facilitate naturalization procedures for refugees and stateless persons and assist them in accessing social services.