Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2016, 16:12 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Kazakhstan

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2000
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Kazakhstan , 1 June 2000, available at: [accessed 20 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Kazakhstan hosted an estimated 14,800 refugees and asylum seekers, including 7,000 Chechens from the Russian Federation, 5,400 Tajiks (mostly ethnic Kazakhs), 2,300 Afghans, and some 250 others of various nationalities. During 1999, 490 Tajik refugees repatriated to Tajikistan through a voluntary repatriation program sponsored by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

On January 15, 1999 Kazakhstan acceded to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol. However, the government had not passed legislation to implement the Convention's provisions by year's end. Kazakhstan was the fourth of the five Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union – the others were Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan – to ratify the Convention, making Central Asia the most highly represented region of Asia in the community of nations that have ratified the Convention. However, at year's end, Kazakhstan had yet to adopt any legislation implementing the Convention's provisions.

The Kazakh government applied different procedures for asylum seekers from Soviet republics and citizens of other countries. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) registered former Soviet citizens such as Chechens and Tajiks, while the refugee section of the Agency for Migration and Demography (AMD) registered all others.

The AMD established a refugee determination and appeal process in April 1998. Since then, it has granted refugee status to 815 of the 1,153 persons who have applied for asylum, most of whom were Afghans. Only two rejected asylum seekers appealed decisions in 1999; the AMD rejected both. According to UNHCR, few denied applicants were able to appeal, largely because the AMD moved its office in May. Refugees living far from the capital could not afford to travel there to lodge their appeals.

The MOI granted citizens of former Soviet Republics, including asylum seekers, the right to remain for only 45 days. It considered those who remained longer to be in the country illegally. However, Kazakhstan made an exception for Chechens. It agreed to permit them to stay until they could safely repatriate.

UNHCR regarded an estimated 150 other persons in Kazakhstan, mostly citizens of China, as potential refugees. In February 1999, the Kazakh authorities forcibly returned to China three Uighur men whom they had arrested in August 1998. According to the Department of State, Kazakhstan deported the three men without having considered the merits of their asylum claims. The Uighur Human Rights coalition claimed that the Chinese authorities later executed the three men.

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