South-West Asia

Operational information on the South-West Asia subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format.​ This subregion covers the following countries:

Subregion: South-West Asia


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion South-West Asia

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2019 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[382.93488601999996,360.170297977,473.351600748,361.946634964,323.79242552,319.82405521],"expenditure":[158.90284611,156.55047550999998,288.75944655,158.34583653,126.61838953,125.17332885999998]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[184.60069642,198.06495455700002,332.70868251,240.902367764,203.31027494,201.04163225],"p2":[0.21242026,0.30424051,0.23462954,0.235,0.599,0.55816334],"p3":[120.93371852,106.53871565,92.349152539,98.82267524,89.22617931999999,96.87976345],"p4":[77.18805081999999,55.26238726,48.059136159000005,21.986591960000002,30.656971260000002,21.344496170000003]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[88.79105311,92.11479018000001,242.52296085,111.9619952,71.34104447,68.27363381999999],"p2":[0.18566753,0.20609760000000002,0.15099556,0.13975851,0.11294747999999999,0.1098938],"p3":[34.246585939999996,36.57175741,29.0479299,27.88620197,33.67393502,38.3927497],"p4":[35.67953953,27.65783032,17.037560239999998,18.35788085,21.490462559999997,18.39705154]}
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People of Concern - 2019

[["Refugees",2471269],["Asylum-seekers",8825],["IDPs",2654070],["Returned IDPs",18],["Returned refugees",8413],["Others of concern",447093]]
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Response in 2019

As they entered a fifth decade of protracted displacement, Afghans constituted the second largest refugee population in the world. With more than 950,000 and 1.4 million registered refugees respectively, the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan hosted nearly 90% of the world’s 2.7 million Afghan refugees. Both countries also hosted sizeable populations of documented and undocumented Afghans of varying legal status. Due to a deterioration in the security situation, uncertainties related to political transition and limited absorption capacity and reintegration opportunities in Afghanistan, voluntary repatriation decreased over the past three years, reaching an historic low of 8,100 returnees (assisted by UNHCR and processed at encashment centres in Afghanistan) in 2019. At the same time, 2019 saw a marked increase in movements to Europe, with Afghans constituting the largest group of new arrivals at year-end.
Despite their own socio-economic challenges, the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan remained committed to inclusive policies, notably in access to national education and health care systems, as well as human capital development and economic opportunities.
The three governments and UNHCR continued to pro-actively engage within the multi-year regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), which remained the principal framework for responsibility-sharing and solutions for Afghan refugees. In view of the demographic composition of the Afghan refugee population in the region – more than 60% children and youth - a cross-cutting theme of the SSAR is youth empowerment through education, health and skills training. To this end, UNHCR played a catalytic role in channelling investment in the human capital, resilience and portable skills of refugee youth in host countries, enabling young Afghans to contribute to their host communities pending return. At the same time, these activities enhanced the potential of the youth to contribute to nation-building and reconstruction in Afghanistan upon return.

In December 2019, UNHCR and the three governments launched a Support Platform for the SSAR, in line with the commitments and provisions of the Global Compact on Refugees. The platform provides an opportunity to redefine the way in which the international community, as a whole, responds to the Afghan refugee situation. It recognizes the imperative to support both the inclusive policies of the host countries and the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to enable the voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration of refugees.  
In this regard, the focus in Afghanistan remained on enhancing capacity by leveraging humanitarian and development partnerships in the priority areas of return and reintegration (PARRs). The 20 PARRs link community-based protection projects to longer-term development programs and encouraged private sector investment. They are aligned with Afghanistan’s national peace and development framework and national priority programmes, notably the Citizens’ Charter, as well as the Displacement and Return Executive Committee (DiREC) policy framework and action plan on returnees and IDPs.
Equally important, UNHCR sought to channel additional investments into the national public service delivery systems in the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan (education, health care, social protection, vocational skills development), with a view to supporting inclusive government policies and benefitting host communities and refugees alike.

Operational Environment

2019 will mark the 40th year since the start of large-scale displacement and today Afghans still remain the largest refugee population of concern to UNHCR in Asia and the Pacific. There are some 1.4 million Afghan refugees hosted by Pakistan and close to 1 million by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both countries also host large numbers of undocumented Afghans, some of whom may also need international protection.
In the past four decades, the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan have been generously hosting Afghans refugees and undocumented people. The Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) serves as an enabling multilateral platform for consensus-building, strengthening existing partnership and engaging new actors. Mobilizing resources and political support for Afghan refugees is increasingly challenged by other humanitarian crises around the world. The SSAR will seek to build on these global initiatives and expand partnerships to find solutions to Afghan displacement.
It is also expected that the international community will take advantage of the Global Compact on Refugees as a game-changer towards solutions for displacement and mixed flow of Afghans in the region.  To this effect, the Government of Afghanistan officially announced in July 2018 its decision to join and support the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) as a country of origin.
A Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United Nations, took place in Geneva on 28 November 2018. A side-event on People on the Move presented an opportunity to focus specifically on support for refugee hosting countries, sustainable reintegration of returnees and migration management in the region.
In 2019, Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue with their cooperation under the auspices of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).
Following the June 2018 elections in Pakistan, the new government has reaffirmed its commitment to solving refugees and immigrants’ issues in accordance with international humanitarian laws.
In Afghanistan, after the October 2018 parliamentary elections, the operational context will continue to be volatile in 2019 with possible security challenges related to the presidential elections planned on 20 April.
The economic impact of the sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran is likely to exacerbate the situation of vulnerable refugees, as well as local population.

Response and Implementation

  • UNHCR remains strongly committed to support the efforts of the Governments of the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan in providing protection and seeking solutions for Afghan refugees;
  • Enhanced support is also sought to help these governments to address mixed flows of Afghans, especially undocumented Afghans, in order to maintain credible protection space for refugees;
  • UNHCR is promoting the idea of strengthening the implementation of the SSAR by using tools and follow-up measures in the GCR, with the Refugee Forum scheduled at the end of 2019 as an important milestone.
  • UNHCR remains committed to exploring and expanding access to refugee enrolment into cross-border job placement programmes and increase in diversified livelihoods opportunities; as well as in demand-driven vocational and technical education programs with on the job training.
  • Further support to implementation of the inclusive refugee policies of the government of Iran, for refugees to access health-care, health insurance and education.

2019 Budget and Expenditure in South-West Asia | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Afghanistan Budget
Islamic Republic of Iran Budget
Pakistan Budget
Total Budget

2019 Voluntary Contributions to South-West Asia | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
South-West Asia overall
United States of America 00015,200,000 15,200,000
South-West Asia overall subtotal 00015,200,000 15,200,000
Belgium 0284,414853,2420 1,137,656
Bulgaria 40,000000 40,000
Canada 000949,848 949,848
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 0094,2225,778 100,000
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 002,395,8920 2,395,892
Denmark 0003,720,079 3,720,079
European Union 0007,265,721 7,265,721
France 00300,0000 300,000
Germany 170,955787,78800 958,743
Japan 1,905,1422,247,000267,5000 4,419,642
Luxembourg 000523,013 523,013
Norway 00326,975685,323 1,012,298
Private donors in Italy 9000 9
Private donors in Japan 0092,9380 92,938
Republic of Korea 0003,400,000 3,400,000
Sweden 0001,103,022 1,103,022
Switzerland 0001,004,016 1,004,016
United States of America 2,500,0000018,200,000 20,700,000
Afghanistan subtotal 4,616,1063,319,2024,330,76936,856,800 49,122,877
Islamic Republic of Iran
Australia 1,000,000000 1,000,000
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 685,705000 685,705
Denmark 2,103,979000 2,103,979
European Union 4,657,856000 4,657,856
Germany 2,224,694000 2,224,694
Japan 973,213000 973,213
Kuwait 75,910000 75,910
Norway 799,543000 799,543
Private donors in Canada 525000 525
Republic of Korea 2,010,613000 2,010,613
Russian Federation 100,000000 100,000
UNAIDS 52,000000 52,000
Islamic Republic of Iran subtotal 14,684,038000 14,684,038
Canada 000379,939 379,939
Denmark 2,103,979000 2,103,979
European Union 909,615001,544,892 2,454,508
Japan 2,098,7901,266,79400 3,365,584
Norway 000342,661 342,661
Private donors in the Republic of Korea 5,086000 5,086
Switzerland 503,018000 503,018
UNAIDS 30,000000 30,000
UNDP 81,3370017,979 99,316
United States of America 107,0000022,800,000 22,907,000
Pakistan subtotal 5,838,8271,266,794025,085,472 32,191,093
Total 25,138,9714,585,9964,330,76977,142,272 111,198,007
Latest contributions
  • 01-JUL-2020
  • 30-JUN-2020
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  • 29-JUN-2020
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