UNHCR Raised Awareness of Social Protection Departments
ASTANA, Kazakhstan. February 14, 2017 (UNHCR) – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kazakhstan made presentations on refugee protection and statelessness issues for the officials of the Social Protection Departments of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development coming from all regions of Kazakhstan. The newly established Ministry of Labour and Social Development that previously was part of the Ministry of Health and Social Developed invited UNHCR to join its regular exercise aimed at capacity building of the State servants, sharing latest updates on the laws and procedures and ensuring consistent provision of services to population, including migrants, refugees and stateless persons. This invitation follows up on a number of initiatives that have been jointly undertaken by the Ministry and UNHCR in the framework of Almaty Process on Refugee Protection and International Migration and interagency cooperation.
The presentation by UNHCR speaker on UNHCR mission and activities, refugee protection standards and situation of refugees in Kazakhstan followed by a fruitful discussion on refugees rights, refugees legal status and possibilities for naturalization in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is the State party to 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol since 1998. In 2009, Kazakhstan adopted its national Law on Refugees and consequently took responsibility for refugee protection. According to data provided by the Government of Kazakhstan, as of 1 January 2017, Kazakhstan hosts 626 refugees. Almost 95% of refugees originate from Afghanistan; others come from Syria, Uzbekistan, Palestine and some other countries. UNHCR in Kazakhstan continues to advocate for improved access of refugees to the rights guaranteed by the 1951 Convention.
The presentation on statelessness touched upon the causes of statelessness in Kazakhstan, gaps in the national legislation, international standards on reduction and prevention of statelessness and situation of stateless persons in Kazakhstan. The participants discussed different categories of stateless persons and the challenges that each category may face in Kazakhstan, as well as possible ways to resolve the existing situations of statelessness and prevent the emergency of new cases of statelessness.
As of 1 January 2017, Kazakhstan hosts 6,706 stateless persons officially registered by the government, and 1,781 persons with undetermined nationality identified by UNHCR legal partners, Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law and Legal Centre of Women Initiatives Sana Sezim. In 2016, UNHCR and Partners contributed to the analysis of the national legislation related to citizenship and statelessness and developed a set of practical recommendations aimed at improvement of national legislation to bring it in compliance with international standards. The participants especially noted that the issues of birth registration and issue of birth certificates to all children shall be given the upmost priority.
UNHCR shared information on the projects on assistance to asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons implemented by its Partners and encouraged the State officials to share that information with persons of concern.
UNHCR will continue working in close cooperation with the Government of Kazakhstan to raise awareness on refugees and statelessness issues and promote the improved conditions for refugees and stateless persons in Kazakhstan.