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Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion South Asia
People of Concern - 2020[["Refugees",215981],["Asylum-seekers",11488],["IDPs",25013],["Returned IDPs",97],["Returned refugees",212],["Others of concern",560]]
Response in 2020Although not signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, countries in South Asia remained home to an important population of refugees, the majority being hosted in India (40,010 registered with UNHCR) followed by Nepal (20,000) and Sri Lanka (1,239) and primarily living in an urban context. UNHCR continued to work with the Government of Sri Lanka on finding solutions for 25,013 internally displaced persons in the country.
The number of new asylum-seekers decreased throughout the sub-region following the onset of travel restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three countries took an inclusive approach to health response for people of concern in the context of the pandemic, granting them access to COVID-19 testing and treatment. UNHCR adapted its assistance programmes at the onset of the crisis, to ensure continued support such as cash assistance, access to education through remote learning modalities, and remote protection services such as interviews for refugee status, registration, documentation and counselling, to address needs heightened by the pandemic.
UNHCR supported Governments with policy and capacity-building on asylum and protection issues, and advocated improvements to ensure legal status, documentation and non-refoulement for people of concern. UNHCR also worked with the broader UN to advocate inclusion of people of concern in development planning, increased access to national services such as public schools and the right to legal work. Refugees and asylum-seekers continued to face barriers to access secondary school and were often limited to work in the informal sector. UNHCR continued to use cash assistance as a key modality for assisting refugees, particularly in the context of the pandemic and with a focus on persons with specific needs. However, there remained substantial unmet needs with regard to covering school fees and the need for tablets as well as lost livelihoods. A key pillar of UNHCR’s approach in the sub-region remained to enhance socio-economic conditions for host communities as well as refugees, and to provide enhance capacities of local and national facilities for education, livelihoods and health, including through partnerships with development actors.
In the midst of COVID-19-related travel restrictions, UNHCR continued to seek durable solutions for refugees in the sub-region. UNHCR closed its sub-office in Damak, Nepal following the closure of a mass resettlement programme for Bhutanese refugees and investments in local services in municipalities hosting the remaining 6,365 Bhutanese. Despite airport and border closures, UNHCR was able to facilitate the departure for resettlement, voluntary repatriation or third country pathways for hundreds of refugees in the sub-region. Additionally, UNHCR also assisted Sri Lankan refugees who had been living in countries of asylum to voluntarily repatriate and provided support for their initial reintegration.
For more information on response in each operation, please visit India, Nepal and Sri Lanka operation pages.
Working environment and response in 2020While not signatories to the 1951 Convention, the Governments of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka continue to offer asylum to a considerable number of refugees and asylum-seekers. The projected number of people of concern in the sub-region in 2020 is expected to be approximately 258,000 people, with UNHCR providing assistance to some 54,000 refugees, asylum-seekers and returnees.
People of concern will continue to face significant challenges in the sub-region owing to the absence of legal or administrative frameworks allowing for temporary stay, the lack of sustainable livelihoods, and limited services for people with specific needs. Refugees face the risk of arrest and deportation to their countries of origin at times despite being registered with UNHCR.
While continuing to register and recognize refugees and providing assistance to the most vulnerable, UNHCR’s operations in the sub-region will engage a whole of society approach to facilitate inclusion of refugees in social protection, while opening up new opportunities for self-reliance initiatives.
UNHCR continues to pursue solutions for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu, India. By the end of 2020, UNHCR hopes to have completed operations in eastern Nepal, but will continue to monitor and support Bhutanese refugees from the office in Katmandu.
UNHCR will facilitate repatriation of refugees by air to Sri Lanka but is prepared to provide additional support should an agreement be reached to resume ferry services and hopefully increase the number of people who can return.
2020 Budget and Expenditure in South Asia | USD
2020 Voluntary Contributions to South Asia | USD
|Earmarking / Donor||Pillar 1
|South Asia overall|
|United States of America||0||1,100,000||1,100,000|
|South Asia overall subtotal||0||1,100,000||1,100,000|
|Private donors in Austria||22,727||0||22,727|
|Private donors in India||6,616||0||6,616|
|Private donors in Japan||86,350||0||86,350|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||34,737||45,702||80,439|
|Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||566,000||0||566,000|
|United Nations Population Fund||149,519||0||149,519|
|United States of America||103,123||900,000||1,003,123|
|Private donors in Italy||0||17||17|
|United States of America||0||1,800,000||1,800,000|
|United States of America||50,076||400,000||450,076|
|Sri Lanka subtotal||50,076||400,000||450,076|