High Commissioner Guterres heads to Tajikistan

Briefing Notes, 28 March 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 28 March 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

High Commissioner António Guterres starts a three-day visit to the Republic of Tajikistan on Monday. He is expected to meet President Emomali Rahmon and various other key ministers. They will discuss improvement of the national asylum systems in the country; the integration of some 1,000 Afghans who have been refugees in Tajikistan for up to 20 years; and further cooperation between UNHCR and the country. Over the past 15 years, UNHCR has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Government of Tajikistan.

In the course of the visit, the High Commissioner will also participate in the official opening of vocational training projects established at a refugee training centre in Dushanbe.

In 1993, Tajikistan was the first country in Central Asia to accede to the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol on the status of refugees. It was also the first country to adopt national refugee legislation. Tajikistan currently hosts 1,710 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from Afghanistan.

This is the third mission the High Commissioner has made to Central Asia, following his visits to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in November last year. He is also planning to visit Turkmenistan in the near future.

Prior to his Central Asia mission, Mr. Guterres will attend an Arab heads summit in Damascus, Syria, over the weekend.