Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2016, 09:30 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Uzbekistan

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Uzbekistan , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 24 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.

At the end of 2002, Uzbekistan hosted an estimated 38,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including approximately 30,000 civil war refugees from Tajikistan and more than 8,000 Afghans, some of whom sought asylum or are refugees recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There were 2,700 UNHCR-recognized refugees at the end of the year. Afghans made up the bulk of the caseload.

An estimated 3,000 Uzbeks remained displaced as a result of forced relocation by the government in 2000 and 2001.

Around 2,700 Uzbeks sought asylum abroad in other countries during the year, the majority in the United States (1,000) and Switzerland (640).

UNHCR received asylum claims from 528 persons in 2002, the majority from Afghanistan (516).


Uzbekistan is the only former Soviet Central Asian republic that is not a party to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol. Since the country has no national legislation regarding refugees, UNHCR carries out refugee status determinations. A Law on Migration, which contains a special chapter on refugees, is in the drafting stage. However because it is a low priority, the government is not expected to pass it before 2005.

The Uzbek government has signed the 1999 Charter for European Security, which, although not legally binding, calls on signatories to respect the right to seek asylum and to protect refugees. In practice, however, refugees in Uzbekistan find little legal protection and face difficult living conditions that stem from strict Uzbek laws regarding foreigners. For example, all foreigners, including refugees, must pay for housing, medical expenses, and transportation in U.S. dollars. UNHCR has arranged for refugee children to attend school. Due to limited funds, UNHCR is only able to provide medical assistance and financial support to the most vulnerable persons. Generally foreigners never receive permanent residence in Uzbekistan; at best they receive a temporary residence permit, even if they are married to Uzbek citizens.

Uzbekistan regards most refugees and asylum seekers as illegal immigrants subject to deportation. The authorities restricted UNHCR's access to detained refugees and denied detainees legal services or interpreters.

During the year, UNHCR reported the refoulement of six Afghans who had been recognized as mandate refugees. Human Rights Watch reported the forced return of a Turkmen national to Turkmenistan where he was immediately imprisoned. UNHCR reported that 93 persons voluntarily repatriated to Afghanistan.

Tajik Refugees

The 30,000 de facto refugees from Tajikistan in Uzbekistan are ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks who fled their country after outbreak of civil war in the early 1990s. UNHCR reported that most have integrated in the areas where they reside, and although very few have received permanent residences status in Uzbekistan, very few have applied to UNCHR for formal refugee status.

Internal Displacement

The authoritarian, secular Uzbek government has repressed Islamist movements in Uzbekistan, and the government sought to eliminate any support for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Uzbek government forcibly evacuated an estimated 3,000 residents of five villages near the Tajik and Afghan border, where the authorities felt the movement had a support base, and moved them several hundred miles away from their homes. They lived in squalid conditions in resettlement centers and the government prohibited them from even visiting their homes, many of which had been burned by Uzbek forces.

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