In 1999, Tajikistan hosted about 4,800 refugees and asylum seekers, nearly all Afghans. The vast majority, some 4,650, were persons with refugee status; the remaining 150 were asylum seekers whose cases were still pending determination.

Tajikistan is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, and the Tajik Constitution provides for the granting of asylum to refugees. A 1994 refugee law grants refugees the right to work and move freely throughout the country. The Ministry of Labor's Central Department of Refugee Affairs registers refugees.

Some 92,000 Tajiks who fled the 1992 to 1994 civil war in Tajikistan were living in neighboring countries in 1999. Most were reportedly of the same ethnic background as the majority population in those countries. Although many may no longer fear persecution in Tajikistan, they chose not to return, in part because of widespread criminality in Tajikistan. Most reportedly planned to settle permanently in the countries were they sought refuge, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is helping them to integrate locally in some neighboring countries.

During 1999, UNHCR assisted the repatriation of more than 4,500 Tajiks. It gave returnees a cash grant equivalent to $20 and a reintegration package consisting of various goods. It also rehabilitated houses, schools, and clinics. The World Food Program provided returnees food aid. In September, the Tajik government initiated a program that provided returnees and formerly displaced persons up to 300,000 Tajik rubles ($200) in credit, payable over 20 years.


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