Kyrgyzstan hosted about 8,200 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2003, mostly Tajiks (6,800) and Afghans (690). The government rejected 62 applicants, and 647 cases were pending at the end of the year.
UNHCR assisted some 83 persons repatriate to Tajikistan during 2003. The government of Kyrgyzstan began integrating and granting citizenship Tajik refugees during the year, aiming to have the process completed by 2004. By the end of the year, the government had granted 1,700 Tajik refugees citizenship, in what UNHCR called "a model for other countries in the region or indeed in other parts of the world."
During the year, UNHCR assisted 15 persons to repatriate to Afghanistan. Some 208 Afghans were resettled from Kyrgyzstan to other countries in 2003.
Some 474 Chechens with pending asylum claims resided in Kyrgyzstan at the end of 2003. As in the past, the government did not adjudicate Chechen claims, but their asylum seeker status protected them from refoulement. Chechen refugees reported some harassment from law enforcement officials.
The government does not recognize ethnic Uighurs from China as refugees, and therefore few apply for status. Sometimes the government forcibly returns them.