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Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion South Asia
People of Concern - 2019[["Refugees",215724],["Asylum-seekers",12650],["IDPs",25110],["Returned IDPs",10363],["Returned refugees",1068],["Others of concern",534]]
Response in 2019UNHCR’s operations and people of concern in South Asia were affected by geopolitical shifts in 2019. In Sri Lanka, the terror attacks of 21 April resulted in over 250 deaths and led to anti-Islamic backlash and a challenging protection environment, particularly in relation to asylum-seekers and refugees. The Government extended protection and assistance to affected asylum-seekers and refugees, and resettlement countries quickly responded to enable solutions for the most vulnerable. Meanwhile, the Government of India proceeded with its National Register of Citizens in Assam State. Those excluded, following exhaustion of administrative and judicial review could face a potential risk of statelessness. In Nepal, the large-scale resettlement of Bhutanese refugees concluded, with 113,500 individuals having found third-country solutions in the period 2007-2019, including 310 who departed in 2019. At the end of 2019, the Government was reviewing options for local solutions for the remaining 6,400 Bhutanese refugees.
All three countries continued hosting asylum-seekers and refugees. In India, Tamils and Tibetans were assisted by the Government directly, while UNHCR registered people of concern with other profiles, including Afghan nationals and Rohingya. In addition to the remaining Bhutanese refugees, Nepal continued to host some 12,500 Tibetans, as well as a small number of urban refugees of other nationalities. New arrivals in Sri Lanka declined markedly, reaching 300 for the entire year.
Across the region, UNHCR focused on comprehensive solutions while also ensuring protection and assistance. In Nepal, UNHCR supported efforts towards local solutions for the remaining Bhutanese population, working with the Government to ensure access to national services and livelihoods so refugees could contribute to the local economy. In Sri Lanka, UNHCR supported asylum-seekers and refugees through registration and protection counselling and further provided limited assistance for basic needs for individuals awaiting the identification of third-country solutions. In India, in addition to conducting registration and refugee status determination for asylum-seekers, UNHCR advocated for alternatives to detention and the inclusion of refugees in national systems, such as education.
In Sri Lanka, UNHCR was unable to meet all basic needs through cash grants, despite the fact that all refugees were dependent on such assistance. In India, many asylum-seekers faced long waiting periods for decisions on their refugee status due to insufficient UNHCR human resources. In Nepal, the limited capacity of national systems proved challenging for people of concern, with UNHCR only able to support the most marginalized and vulnerable.
Operational Environment and Response in 2019While not signatories to the 1951 Convention, the Governments of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka continue to offer asylum to a considerable number of refugees. The projected number of people of concern in the sub-region in 2019 stands at more than 260,000 people, with some 211,000 refugees and 5,000 returned refugees.
The main protection challenges faced by refugees in the sub-region, in particular urban refugees, include the lack of sustainable livelihoods; limited access to services including specialized services for persons with specific needs; and the absence of frameworks allowing for temporary stay and protection. UNHCR continues to provide protection and assistance, focusing on the most vulnerable — women, children, elderly, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and people with specific needs.
UNHCR continues to pursue solutions for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu, India. With the last resettlement departures of Bhutanese refugees having taken place at the end of 2018, UNHCR is working with local and national authorities and the refugee community to build self-reliance and enhance inclusion of refugees in social protection services. UNHCR is also reaching out to development partners to encourage investment in refugee hosting areas which have for decades supported the refugees.
UNHCR continues to facilitate repatriation by air to Sri Lanka, but is prepared to provide additional support should an agreement be reached to resume ferry services, which would allow for an increased number of refugees to return with more belongings.
2019 Budget and Expenditure in South Asia | USD
2019 Voluntary Contributions to South Asia | USD
|Earmarking / Donor||Pillar 1
|South Asia overall|
|United States of America||0||1,300,000||1,300,000|
|South Asia overall subtotal||0||1,300,000||1,300,000|
|Private donors in Japan||26,933||0||26,933|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||19,058||0||19,058|
|Private donors in the United States of America||0||53,916||53,916|
|United States of America||0||1,800,000||1,800,000|
|United States of America||0||1,200,000||1,200,000|
|United States of America||600,000||1,400,000||2,000,000|
|Sri Lanka subtotal||811,268||1,400,000||2,211,268|