U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Turkmenistan

At the end of 2001, Turkmenistan hosted almost 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection. These included 650 individually recognized refugees from Afghanistan and 28 from other countries. Turkmenistan also hosted about 12,500 prima facie refugees from Tajikistan, and more than 750 prima facie ethnic Turkmen refugees from Afghanistan.

Almost 600 asylum claims were lodged during the year with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which recognized 205 claims and rejected 185. Another 249 asylum claims were pending at year's end. The largest numbers of asylum seekers came from Afghanistan (325), Tajikistan (170), and Azerbaijan (89).

UNHCR assisted in the voluntary repatriation of 384 refugees, helping 276 return to Tajikistan, 94 to Afghanistan, and 14 to other countries.

Asylum Procedures

Turkmenistan is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. A national refugee law adopted in 1997 has not yet been implemented, and there is no national structure for assessing refugee claims. Therefore, UNHCR conducts refugee status determination under an ad hoc arrangement with the Turkmen government, which recognizes refugee certificates issued by UNHCR. Mandate refugees in Turkmenistan enjoy the same social and economic rights as Turkmen citizens, in accordance with the 1997 refugee law. Prima facie refugees are, in general, locally integrated in rural areas of Turkmenistan.

Reception and Integration

According to UNHCR, limited financial assistance is provided to the most vulnerable refugees, particularly in urban areas. UNHCR also seeks resettlement outside the region for certain vulnerable cases. By the end of June 2001, the United States had admitted 166 refugees from Turkmenistan and Canada had accepted 93, all Afghans. UNHCR continues to work with the government on the acquisition of Turkmen citizenship for ethnic Turkmen refugees from Tajikistan. Programs to promote local integration of Tajiks operated in Lebap and Mary provinces during 2001. UNHCR worked with three Turkmen nongovernmental organizations in the implementation of programs aiming to assist refugee women and children in adapting to life, culture, and traditions in Turkmenistan.


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