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First ever registration of refugees completed

[Turkmenistan] Afghan and Tajik refugees celebrate on World Refugee Day. IRIN
Keik Okara NGO works with refugees, but has waited five years for registration
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the government of Turkmenistan have completed the first ever registration of all refugees in Turkmenistan, UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond announced on 18 March, in Geneva. The exercise began in October 2004 and was finalised at the end of February. Some 11,000 ethnic Turkmen who had arrived from Tajikistan and more than 500 ethnic Turkmen from Afghanistan were recorded. "The exercise will now lead to negotiations with the government of the Central Asian nation on finding a durable solution for the registered population. It is a major step toward the resolution of a refugee situation created by the conflicts in nearby Afghanistan and Tajikistan," Redmond said. The collapse of the Soviet Union and ensuing civil wars and ethnic conflicts created a complex refugee picture in the five Central Asian countries. UNHCR's engagement in the region began in Tajikistan in 1993 as an emergency response to help more than 600,000 people displaced by the civil war. Within a few years, the refugee agency had expanded to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. "The majority of the ethnic Turkmen fled to Turkmenistan from Tajikistan between 1992 and 1997 to escape a civil war that broke out in the aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union. A number of other ethnic Turkmen had arrived earlier from Afghanistan and were granted residence permits in Turkmenistan in 1994," the spokesman added. Following a number of positive developments for refugees in Tajikistan, UNHCR announced last week that it intends to consider declaring the cessation of refugee status for displaced Tajiks. UNHCR will evaluate the situation over the next six months in consultation with host governments and the Government of Tajikistan. The assessment will decide if conditions remain favourable for the cessation of Tajik refugee status towards the end of 2005 or the beginning of 2006.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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