Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2017, 13:52 GMT

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

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 - Turkmenistan , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 15 December 2017]
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, Turkmenistan hosted about 13,700 refugees and asylum seekers, including around 500 refugees, mostly from Afghanistan (400), about 13,200 considered prima facie refugees by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), mostly from Tajikistan (12,300), with the remainder from Afghanistan.

UNHCR received only 28 asylum applications during the year, mostly from Azerbaijan (21) and Afghanistan (6). Of these, 17 persons, mostly Azerbaijanis (14), were granted and 1 case was pending.

UNHCR assisted in the voluntary repatriation of about 110 Tajik and 150 Afghan refugees.

Asylum Procedures

Turkmenistan is a party to the UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. A national refugee law adopted in 1997 has not yet been implemented, thus UNHCR conducts refugee status determinations under an ad hoc arrangement with the government. The government recognizes refugee certificates issued by UNHCR and allows the bearers to remain legally in the country. Mandate refugees in Turkmenistan have the same social and economic rights as Turkmen citizens. Prima facie refugees are generally locally integrated in rural areas of the country. Foreigners and stateless persons are prevented from marrying Turkmen citizens unless they have resided in the country a year, are 18, own a home and post a divorce bond of $50,000.

Legislative Changes

In November 2002, the president of Turkmenistan issued a decree ordering that persons who disrupt society by "immoral behavior" and do not work to help the country's economy would be forcibly relocated. It is believed these measures were put in place as a result of an attempt to kill the President. The implementation of this resolution may create internally displaced persons in the country, although it had not yet been implemented by year's end.

The decree also mandated the relocation of residents of Dashoguz, Lebap, and Ahal provinces to an area in the northwest of the country, stating that it would better develop the country and better distribute labor. Unconfirmed reports suggested that these measures would mainly affect ethnic Uzbeks living in those provinces.

Restrictive Measures

Although the exit visa requirement was removed, the president proposed reinstating it in December.

During the autumn there were several incidents where, according to Uzbek authorities, Turkmen authorities shot persons trying to cross into Uzbekistan, killing at least one. The Turkmen authorities claim bandits shot these persons.

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