Libya flag

Libya Libya RSS Feed

2014 UNHCR regional operations profile - North Africa

| Overview |

Working environment

The North Africa subregion serves as either a transit or final destination for sizeable mixed migration movements from sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the instability still affecting much of North Africa continues to generate irregular movements from the region to Europe. UNHCR offices throughout North Africa witnessed an increase in the number of asylum-seekers in 2013.

The continuing unrest in the region has had a negative impact on the protection climate, with increased arrests and detention of refugees and asylum-seekers, especially those from sub-Saharan Africa. Terrorist activity in the Sahel and Sinai regions, as well as in Libya, has also affected UNHCR's operations. In Egypt, for instance, the insecurity arising from the recent political crisis has led UNHCR to put new security measures in place for its staff.

Local integration is generally not possible in North Africa, and the prospects for voluntary repatriation for most of the refugee groups in the region are limited. Resettlement remains the main durable solution and continues to be used as a protection tool for the most vulnerable.

By mid-2013, there were more than 31,000 asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in the North Africa subregion. In addition to nearly 47,000 registered refugees in urban areas, there were around 90,000 Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps (Algeria), and some 70,000 Malians in Mbera Camp (Mauritania). UNHCR has registered 141,000 Syrians in the North Africa subregion, some 127,000 of them in Egypt. It is anticipated that the profile of those groups of concern to UNHCR in North Africa will not change significantly in 2014, with the exception of a rise in the number of Syrian refugees.

Most refugees and asylum-seekers in North Africa reside in urban areas. However, UNHCR's urban programmes in the countries of the region are quite small, assisting only a few hundred refugees and asylum-seekers. These people of concern face difficult socio-economic conditions due to the lack of legal status and residence permits; UNHCR helps them gain access to housing and basic social services and works to improve their opportunities for self-reliance.

An increasing number of asylum-seekers from South Sudan and Sudan have been registered by the UNHCR office in Egypt. UNHCR also supports more than 1,300 refugees and asylum-seekers at the Saloum camp near the Egyptian-Libyan border, pending their departure on resettlement or other durable solutions.

Despite the risk of arrest and detention, especially for sub-Saharan Africans, Libya continues to see the arrival of many refugees and asylum-seekers. Pending the setting up of a national asylum system and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Libya and UNHCR, a progressive resumption of registration and refugee status determination (RSD) activities is in progress. UNHCR conducts protection monitoring visits to detention sites where refugees and asylum-seekers are held following interception at sea or upon discovery that they lack valid documentation.

Thousands of Syrians have reportedly arrived in Algeria by air. Malians who sought safety in Algeria in 2012 are being hosted by families along the border. Both the Malians and Syrians are being assisted by the Algerian Red Crescent.

In Morocco, UNHCR saw a tripling in the number of asylum-seekers, with most coming from Côte d'Ivoire and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria). UNHCR advocated for temporary protection for asylum-seekers and in September 2013 the Government announced that an Ad hoc Committee would be established to review and recognize people of concern in the country. This is an important step forward whereby the Government of Morocco seeks to assume responsibility for developing asylum procedures in conformity with international standards. In 2014, UNHCR will therefore support efforts to build the capacity of the local authorities to establish national asylum infrastructure by providing training, conducting workshops and facilitating professional exchanges. .

There are some 70,000 Malian refugees in Mauritania at Mbera camp, near the border with Mali. Movements into the country and spontaneous returns have stabilized. Biometric registration that is being performed by UNHCR and the Government is expected to enhance the protection space afforded to this group. More than 3,000 refugees (37 per cent) in Mbera camp voted in the 2013 Mali presidential elections.

The Confidence Building Measures (CBM) programme for Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf camps, Algeria, will continue in 2014 in an effort to meet the humanitarian needs of families who have been separated for a prolonged period of time. The measures will also reduce the psychological isolation of the refugees by restoring family and community links. The CBM activities complement the efforts of the United Nations to find a political solution to this protracted refugee situation, which has lasted more than 38 years.

| Response |

Strategies

  • UNHCR's efforts will continue to focus on the safeguarding and expansion of protection space; the establishment of responsive national asylum systems; and the promotion of protection-sensitive management of mixed migration movements.

  • UNHCR will also seek to expand partnerships with States, governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society to develop fair and efficient legislative and administrative frameworks for asylum. The Office's strategic priorities are to deliver life-saving assistance, ensure protection for all people of concern, seek durable solutions including resettlement as a protection tool and prepare for new emergencies.

Challenges

The key challenge facing UNHCR in North Africa is the continuing arrival of large numbers of asylum-seekers while countries in the region are unstable and going through a period of transition.

This is exacerbated by the absence of national and regional strategies for managing mixed migration movements, and the lack of national asylum systems consistent with international standards.

In the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, the effects of the global financial crisis are aggravating the challenges faced by Sahrawi refugees. Several bilateral donors recently ceased or severely limited their support for the provision of essential and basic services; this has had an impact on UNHCR's humanitarian programme and life-saving assistance. Furthermore, security concerns also led some bilateral donors to withdraw support in 2013, leaving the prospects for 2014 unclear.

In Libya, large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers without prospects of a durable solution are taking the risk of engaging people smugglers in illegal boat movements across the Mediterranean. In 2014 UNHCR will intensify efforts to address such mixed migration phenomena in a comprehensive manner, working with Governments, IOM and NGOs.

Fragile security and instability in Egypt have added to the challenges of managing existing populations of concern and stretched host communities' tolerance for the growing number of Syrians arriving in the country. The Office will continue to advocate to maintain this protection space in 2014, and will seek to expand its response to the growing number of Syrian arrivals through the opening of an annex in the Cairo office and a field office in Alexandria.

Mauritania is grappling with the complexities of registering and delivering an assistance programme for the Malian refugees in Mbera camp. In 2014, close attention will be given to opportunities for voluntary return by these refugees to their homes in Mali.

| Implementation |

Operations

UNHCR's operations in Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania are covered in separate chapters.

In Tunisia, the Government remains committed to developing an asylum law and procedure. UNHCR and its partners are working to enhance the capacity of national officials to ensure a protection-sensitive approach to border management. With the closure of Shousha camp in June 2013 there are still some 300 people with rejected claims. UNHCR is working with its partners and the Government to find solutions for this group as well as for recognized refugees who are not likely to be resettled.

Nearly 20,000 people (including some 2,800 at the time of writing in 2013) have benefitted from the family visits under the Confidence Building Measures programme. More than 48,000 people have registered for the programme since its inception in 2004 and further expansion will continue in 2014 in addition to cultural seminars.

In Morocco, the Government announced the development and establishment of a national asylum system. The Ad hoc Committee (of which UNHCR is a member) met in September 2013 and began reviewing cases with a view to regularizing the situation of people of concern, in accordance with international legal standards. UNHCR will continue to support building the capacity of government institutions and civil society in the country.

To date, UNHCR in Libya has registered more than 7,600 refugees and nearly 18,000 asylum-seekers, including Syrians. However, unconfirmed estimates put the number of Syrians in Libya at some 110,000. In 2014, UNHCR will seek support for its activities from the nationalauthoritiesandotherpartners in the country. It will visit and provide assistance to people of concern in detention and advocate for alternatives to incarceration. UNHCR will also strengthen registration, ensure adequate protection mechanisms are in place, provide capacity building workshops to Government officials, and reinforce the pursuit of durable solutions.

| Financial information |

Over the last four years, UNHCR's financial requirements in the North Africa sub-region have increased significantly from USD 47 million in 2010 to a high of USD 171.3 million in 2012, in response to the multiple refugee crises that swept the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the conflict in northern Mali. Though the situation in Mali has since stabilized, the crisis in Syria has driven large numbers of refugees to North Africa. The 2014 financial requirements for the sub-region are set at USD 158.5 million, with almost the entire budget allocated to the refugee programme.

UNHCR budgets for North Africa (USD)
Operation 2013
Revised budget
(as of 30 June 2013)
2014 2015
Refugee
programme
PILLAR 1
Stateless
programme
PILLAR 2
IDP
projects
PILLAR 4
Total
Total 167,138,406 157,804,834 509,962 150,000 158,464,796 154,649,114
Algeria 28,170,158 32,659,529 0 0 32,659,529 32,742,980
Egypt Regional Office 63,048,620 65,034,985 69,962 0 65,104,948 65,104,196
Libya 17,255,113 17,508,000 340,000 150,000 17,998,000 18,359,760
Mauritania 29,967,648 23,960,463 0 0 23,960,463 22,393,871
Morocco 3,268,226 3,516,920 0 0 3,516,920 3,516,920
Tunisia 14,578,650 5,836,778 0 0 5,836,778 4,200,000
Western Sahara (Confidence Building Measures) 10,381,830 8,838,157 0 0 8,838,157 7,931,386
Regional activities 468,161 450,000 100,000 0 550,000 400,000

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105


UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Libya
Style of Address The UNHCR Representative in Libya
Street Address Next to Tarek Ben Zayad School
Gergarsh
Tripoli, Libya
Mailing Address Next to Tarek Ben Zayad School
Gergarsh
Tripoli, Libya
Telephone +218 21 477 0262
Facsimile +218 21 477 0267
Email lbytr@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 2:00
Working Hours
Monday:AM: 8:30 - 12:30, PM: 13:30 - 17:30
Tuesday:AM: 8:30 - 12:30, PM: 13:30 - 17:30
Wednesday:AM: 8:30 - 12:30, PM: 13:30 - 17:30
Thursday:AM: 8:30 - 12:30, PM: 13:30 - 17:30
Friday:
Saturday:
Sunday:AM: 8:30 - 12:30, PM: 13:30 - 17:30
Public Holidays 15 Febraury 2011, Mouloud (Prophet's Birthday)
2 March 2011, Jamahiriya Day
28 March 2011, British Evacuation Day
11 June 2011, American Evacuation Day
28 June 2011, Ascension of the Prophet
30 August 2011, Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
1 September 2011, Revolution Day (National Day)
7 october 2011, Italian Evacuation Day
6 November 2011, Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
26 November 2011, Islamic New Year
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR contact information

Statistical Snapshot*
* As at mid-2013
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Libya [1]
Refugees [2] 7,797
Asylum Seekers [3] 15,979
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 59,425
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 83,201
Originating from Libya [1]
Refugees [2] 3,089
Asylum Seekers [3] 1,617
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 59,425
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 64,131
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
YearUSD
2013 0
2012 0
2011 0
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 0
2005
More info 100,000
USD 100,000 of which 100% was unrestricted.
2004 0
2003 0
2002 0
2001 0
2000 0

Libya UNHCR Fundraising Reports Rss FeedUNHCR Fundraising Reports

more documents

Libya UNHCR Maps Rss FeedUNHCR Maps

UNHCR Syrians KhomsPlay video

UNHCR Syrians Khoms

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined UNHCR chief António Guterres on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where they met with boat people who have fled unrest in North Africa.

More than 40,000 people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have crossed the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats and descended on the small island since the beginning of the year.

The UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador flew to Lampedusa from Malta, which has also been a destination for people fleeing North Africa by boat.

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Displacement Challenges for Libya

Libya endured severe upheaval in 2011 and the next government faces major challenges moving the country forward after four decades of Muammar Gaddafi's rigid rule. One task will be addressing and resolving the issue of tens of thousands of internally displaced people. Some are waiting for their homes to be repaired or rebuilt, but many more have been forced to desert their towns and villages because of their perceived support for Gaddafi and alleged crimes committed during the conflict. Meanwhile, growing numbers of people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, are coming to Libya from sub-Saharan Africa on well travelled mixed migration routes. Some are being detained as illegal immigrants, though many are people of concern. Others have risked the dangerous sea crossing to southern Europe.

Displacement Challenges for Libya

Crisis in Libya

UNHCR is working with the Tunisian and Egyptian authorities and aid groups to manage the dramatic influx of tens of thousands of people fleeing Libya. By the beginning of March, two weeks after the violence erupted in Libya, more than 140,000 people had fled to the neighbouring countries, while thousands more were waiting to cross. Most are Egyptian and Tunisian nationals, though small numbers of Libyans and other nationalities are managing to escape. UNHCR is particularly concerned about thousands of refugees and other foreigners trapped inside Libya, especially people from sub-Saharan Africa. The following photo essay gives a glimpse into what is happening at the borders.

Crisis in Libya

Crush at the Tunisian border

At the Tunisia-Libya border, a heaving crush of thousands of people anxious to leave the insecurity of Libya gathered in no-man's land and on the Libyan side of the border on 2 March, 2011. Most were young men, principally migrant workers from Tunisia and Egypt. They were desperate to go home or find shelter and safety in Tunisia. After several nights sleeping out in the open, many were exhausted and hungry. As the crowd surged towards the border gate, several people were injured. The Tunisian Red Crescent is on hand to provide medical support for all those in need. UNHCR officials were also waiting on the Tunisian side of the border, supporting the Tunisian authorities and aid organizations.

Crush at the Tunisian border

Tunisia's tented transit camp

A new camp full of UNHCR tents, has sprung up close to Tunisia's border with Libya to provide shelter to thousands of migrant workers desperate to get hope. The UNHCR-run facility is already full, with 15,000 people from around Africa and Asia who have fled from Libya.

Most of the new arrivals are penniless and have no hope of making it home on their own. Many of the sub-Saharan Africans arriving at the camp say they fled because of threats and abuse, with some being attacked and robbed in their homes as well as at the checkpoints that have sprung up along many roads in Libya. Non-African arrivals also report having their belongings taken at the checkpoints, but say they have not been the victims of racism and threats.

With people continuing to arrive daily, UNHCR and other agencies are bracing themselves for what could be a large-scale humanitarian disaster if the fighting worsens and if large numbers of Libyans try to flee their country.

Tunisia's tented transit camp

Fleeing Libya by sea

Thousands of people, mainly sub-Saharan Africans, are taking to the sea in ancient, leaky and overcrowded boats to escape war in their adopted homeland. Libya. The destination of choice is the Italian resort island of Lampedusa, some 600 kilometres north of Libya in the Mediterranean. Many of the passengers arrive traumatized and exhausted from the high seas journey. Others perish en route.

One Ivorian migrant describes life in Tripoli before leaving: "There was no peace. There was rifle fire everywhere. Then NATO started to bomb. We had nothing to eat. Some Libyans started to attack strangers at night, to steal your money, your mobile, whatever you have ... No way to stay there with them. Better to flee."

UNHCR estimates that one in 10 people die during the sea journey from Libya. Those bodies which wash ashore get a simple burial in Lampedusa's cemetery.

May 2011

Fleeing Libya by sea

Displacement in Libya: Misrata, Benghazi and Tobruk

Thousands of people still remain displaced in eastern Libya as a result of the conflict that erupted in mid-February between government and opposition forces. Most are staying with host families, in empty buildings or schools. Other people of concern to UNHCR, such as refugees and asylum-seekers, have fled conflict areas such as Misrata by boat to safer locations. They are now hoping to return to their homes in Libya, be resettled to a third country, or to return to their countries of origin. UNHCR's Helene Caux has photographed the plight of internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees and migrants in Misrata, Benghazi and Tobruk.

Displacement in Libya: Misrata, Benghazi and Tobruk

Going home

During the past two weeks, UNHCR has worked with the Tunisian government, Tunisian Red Crescent and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to respond to the dramatic influx of over 90,000 people fleeing the violence in Libya. The majority are migrant workers from Egypt, Tunisia, Bangladesh, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Tens of thousands were flown home following an appeal from UNHCR and IOM to governments to send flights to evacuate them.

Going home

Stuck at the Egyptian border

Some three weeks after the Libyan displacement crisis erupted in mid-February, thousands of people were still stuck at the border between Libya and Egypt waiting for onward travel to their home countries. Many have arrived exhausted at the Sallum crossing after travelling for days without adequate food or water. Some told harrowing tales of armed men going door to door at night, forcing people from sub-Saharan Africa to leave after destroying their identity papers and taking their money.

More long-haul flights to Bangladesh and other Asian destinations are needed to decongest the border, although people from countries like Eritrea and Somalia cannot go home. As a result, many people have been stuck at the border for days, sleeping outside in the cold. UNHCR has provided blankets, plastic mats, food and water for those waiting to be repatriated.

More than 100,000 people have arrived at the Sallum border since the start of the Libyan uprising. The majority have been migrant workers from Egypt who were allowed through immigration and customs quickly, but many nationalities have also turned up at the border and having to wait.

Stuck at the Egyptian border

UNHCR Syrians KhomsPlay video

UNHCR Syrians Khoms

The end of a long, silent journey: Two Eritreans in Libya Play video

The end of a long, silent journey: Two Eritreans in Libya

Two Eritreans set out on a perilous journey to Europe, crossing Sudan and the Sahara arriving in Libya during its 2011 revolution. They arrive in Tripoli having avoided the risks of detention and despite contending with a crippling handicap: both David and his wife Amitu are deaf and mute.
Libya: Cost of WarPlay video

Libya: Cost of War

Sirte was heavily damaged during last year's fighting.
Libya: Africans at Risk Play video

Libya: Africans at Risk

As the civil war ends in Libya, Sub-Saharan Africans fear recriminations
Tunisia: Libyan RefugeesPlay video

Tunisia: Libyan Refugees

Over the past month more than 50,000 people, mostly ethnic Berbers, have across the Tunisia-Libya border at Dehiba. Some of them described why they fled Libya.
Italy Sea rescuePlay video

Italy Sea rescue

A Guardia di Finanza vessel, which normally operates against drug smugglers, arrives in Italy's Lampedusa Island with a group of boat people rescued at sea after fleeing Libya.
UNHCR: Boat OrdealPlay video

UNHCR: Boat Ordeal

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming talks about a boat that drifted in the Mediterranean for more than two weeks after leaving Libya. Only nine of the 72 passengers survived.
Tunisia: Angelina Jolie on the Libya BorderPlay video

Tunisia: Angelina Jolie on the Libya Border

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits refugees fleeing violence in Libya in a camp in Tunisia.
Egypt: Seeking SafetyPlay video

Egypt: Seeking Safety

Amid the ebb and flow of fighting in eastern Libya, a steady stream of people continues to seek shelter in Egypt and other neighbouring countries. They tell their stories.
Libya: Desert EscapePlay video

Libya: Desert Escape

The town of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya has been the scene of heavy fighting. Thousands of civilians sought shelter in the surrounding desert.
Tunisia: Dashed HopesPlay video

Tunisia: Dashed Hopes

Victor left Nigeria 10 years ago in search of a better life and ended up in Libya. In escaping the violence there, he has lost everything he worked for.
Tunisia: No Way HomePlay video

Tunisia: No Way Home

Among the tens of thousands fleeing the violence in Libya is one group of particularly vulnerable people. They come from countries in conflict and cannot go home.
Libya: A Boat Out . . . for SomePlay video

Libya: A Boat Out . . . for Some

A group of Bangladeshi workers leave the coastal Libya town of Benghazi by boat. But some Somalis are not so fortunate.
Libya: Scared and in HidingPlay video

Libya: Scared and in Hiding

They hide in the shadows, so afraid that they don't even want to answer the door. These Africans from sub-Saharan countries fear for their lives in Libya.
Tunisia: Finding RefugePlay video

Tunisia: Finding Refuge

Some 15,000 people are staying in a camp just inside Tunisia after fleeing Libya. Many have stories about increasing violence in Libya and of being targeted by gangs.
Tunisia: A Camp of NationsPlay video

Tunisia: A Camp of Nations

A sea of tents at a camp near Tunisia's border with Libya harbours a mix of many nationalities. What they share is the wish to go home.
Egypt: Stranded at the BorderPlay video

Egypt: Stranded at the Border

Thousands of people are stranded at Egypt's Sallum border crossing with Libya. Many of them are migrant workers, like these exhausted Bangladeshi men.
Tunisia: DeparturesPlay video

Tunisia: Departures

Foreign migrant workers queue to leave Tunisia. A massive evacuation programme has repatriated thousands who fled Libya.
Egypt: Egyptians Cross Back HomePlay video

Egypt: Egyptians Cross Back Home

A steady stream of people have been crossing into Egypt from Libya. These migrant workers were elated to return home.
Tunisia: Tents for Thousands at the Border Play video

Tunisia: Tents for Thousands at the Border

The UN refugee agency is putting up hundreds of tents for people stuck at the Tunisian border after fleeing from Libya.
High Commissioner's Libya AppealPlay video

High Commissioner's Libya Appeal

High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres addresses the situation in Tunisia and UNHCR's response to the emergency.
Tunisia: Border TensionsPlay video

Tunisia: Border Tensions

The latest footage from the border between Libya and Tunisia where tens of thousands of migrants are struggling to leave the country in the wake of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi
Tunisia: Border ArrivalsPlay video

Tunisia: Border Arrivals

Tunisia has opened its borders to people of all nationalities who are fleeing from Libya. Arrivals are registered at a military camp.
Tunisia: Aid FlightPlay video

Tunisia: Aid Flight

Tens of thousands of people have been crossing into Tunisia from Libya. And many more are expected. UNHCR flight of supplies arrives