U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Kazakstan

In 1996, some 14,000 asylum seekers and refugees were living in Kazakhstan. This included 6,000 people who fled from the breakaway Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, 6,000 from Tajikistan, and about 2,000 from Afghanistan. Because Kazakhstan is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and lacks a permanent legal and administrative framework for dealing with refugees and asylum seekers, it had no way to determine the exact number of asylum seekers, leading to some wide disparities in estimates. A Chechen-Ingush cultural center located in Almaty estimated that there were as many as 30,000 Chechens living in Kazakhstan. Many Chechens have been drawn to Kazakhstan because they have relatives in a community of 75,000 ethnic Chechens already living there as a result of a mass deportation during the Stalin era. At the end of the year, UNHCR had registered 1,016 asylum seekers in Kazakhstan, of whom 102 arrived during 1996. Another 927 persons were from Afghanistan, 40 from the Russian Federation (Chechnya), 19 from China, 10 from Tajikistan, and smaller numbers from other countries. In October 1996, a draft Law on Migration prepared in consultation with UNHCR and IOM was submitted to the government for consideration and eventual submission to the parliament. A presidential decree was introduced in July governing asylum for foreign nationals and stateless persons, but had not been implemented by year's end. Ethnic Kazakhs Kazakh law has a special provision that facilitates the return of Kazakhs who left the country because of deportation or persecution during the Stalin era; such individuals are entitled to citizenship. Almost a third of all ethnic Kazakhs currently live outside the country. Through 1996, 154,941 ethnic Kazakhs had "returned" to Kazakhstan. The largest number, 84,828 persons, came from other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States; 62,126 came from Mongolia. Smaller numbers came from Iran (4,617, of whom an estimated 1,500 had been living in Iran as refugees from Afghanistan), China (640), and Afghanistan (418). UNHCR assisted the Afghan refugees of Kazakh ethnic origin by constructing a water supply system and a primary school, and by providing shelter material for 60 houses. Emigration The Russian Federation registered nearly 62,000 new arrivals from Kazakhstan in 1996, a decrease of 30 percent from the number of new arrivals in 1995. An estimated half-million ethnic Russians are believed to have departed Kazakhstan since 1989. The Forced Migration Monitor, a publication of the nongovernmental Open Society Institute, reported in March that an estimated 500,000 ethnic Germans – half the ethnic German community in Kazakhstan – have left for Germany since 1992. Of the remaining Germans, who comprise about 4.7 percent of Kazakhstan's population, an estimated 65 percent have expressed a desire to leave. n

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