With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, some 2 million Belarussians were among the various nationality groups who found themselves living outside their autonomous regions or native republics. Most of the Belarussians who have returned to Belarus fled other former Soviet republics because of fighting or ethnic tensions. From 1989 to 1995, 3,000 Belarussians returned from Azerbaijan, and 3,000 Belarussians returned from Kyrgystan. From 1991 to 1995, 16,000 Belarussians returned from Kazakhstan, and 10,000 Belarussians returned from Tajikistan.
As of 1999, Belarus had an estimated 13,000 asylum seekers from CIS countries, 131,200 internally displaced persons from the ecological effects of the Chernobyl accident, and 160,000 "returnees," ethnic Belarussians who had returned to Belarus from other former republics. Only 2,800 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, were officially registered with the UNHCR. The net migration rate of Belarus in 2000 was 1.5 per 1000 population, or approximately 15,000 people. The government views the immigration level as too high.