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2015 UNHCR country operations profile - Algeria

| Overview |

Working environment

UNHCR 2015 Algeria country operations map

  • The absence of a national asylum law and functioning body to adjudicate asylum requests in Algeria prompts UNHCR to carry out refugee status determination. Refugees and asylum-seekers do not have access to work, which limits their self-reliance. They are also vulnerable to arrest/ detention, and lack access to some basic rights.

  • Developments in the wider region, combined with tighter interception measures and more restrictive asylum policies adopted by countries in the European Union, have increased the number of asylum requests in Algeria, mainly for people seeking refuge from the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria).

  • As mixed migratory movements continue, the number of human trafficking victims and unaccompanied minors has increased considerably. In 2015, UNHCR and partners will focus on assisting the most vulnerable of them.

  • Although the situation in Mali has not prompted mass population movements into Algeria, a few hundred Malians have settled in a camp at the border managed by the Algerian Red Crescent. Others found refuge with the host population. Regional meetings held in Ouagadougou, Bamako and Niamey in 2013-2014 defined a regional approach to address protection challenges and spontaneous voluntary returns of Malian refugees.

  • Sahrawi refugees, who are settled in five camps near Tindouf, are mainly dependent on humanitarian assistance with little prospect for self-reliance, as income-generating activities are scarce. The Government estimates that there are 165,000 refugees in the camps. Pending a registration exercise, UNHCR's assistance programme will continue to be based on a planning figure of 90,000 vulnerable Sahrawi refugees.

  • The Government of Algeria continues to provide free access to education and public health care for refugees throughout the country. Security measures are in place for refugees and humanitarian organizations operating in the camps.

People of concern

The main groups of people of concern for UNHCR in Algeria in 2015 are 90,000 vulnerable Saharawi refugees, as well as a growing population of individual refugees and asylum-seekers from sub-Saharan countries, and people who fled the crises in Mali and Syria, living mainly in urban areas.

UNHCR 2015 planning figures for Algeria
Type of population Origin January 2015 December 2015
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total 97,240 93,250 97,910 93,630
* According to the Government of Algeria, there are an estimated 165,000 Sahrawi refugees in the camps near Tindouf.
Refugees Palestinian 4,050 60 4,100 60
Côte d'Ivoire 50 50 60 50
Various 120 120 130 120
Western Sahara* 90,000 90,000 90,000 90,000
Asylum-seekers Cameroon 120 120 120 50
Mali 400 400 200 150
Syrian Arab Rep. 2,200 2,200 3,000 3,000
Various 300 300 300 200

| Response |

Needs and strategies

In 2015, the main needs to be addressed by UNHCR relate to the provision of international protection and basic assistance and services for vulnerable Sahrawi refugees, as well as for refugees and asylum-seekers in urban areas, mainly Algiers, within the mixed migration context.

The Office will implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at enhancing the asylum space in the country, promoting the adoption and implementation of protection-sensitive management of broader migratory movements. This will be implemented with the relevant national structures and other governmental and non-governmental actors, in line with the UNHCR 10-Point Plan of Action, while also seeking durable solutions for sub-Saharan African refugees such as resettlement to third countries.

| Implementation |


The Office will continue its active role as a member of the UN Country Team, and other joint UN processes at national level, including donor mobilization. It will also continue to work in coordination with local authorities and refugee representatives. Joint planning, assessments and coordination with WFP for food and nutritional interventions, as well as technical support, will be enhanced; cooperation with UNICEF in health and education will be reinforced; and coordination with Oxfam to improve shelter and food security will continue.

2015 UNHCR partners in Algeria
Implementing partners
NGOs: Association d'Information et de Communication en milieu de Jeunes, Wilaya d'Alger, Association des Femmes Algériennes pour le Développement, Caritas Algérie, Croissant-Rouge Algérien, Enfants Réfugiés du Monde, Movement for Peace, Disarmament and Liberty, Réseau Algérien pour la Défense des Droits de l'Enfant, Solidaridad Internacional Andalucia, Spanish Red Cross, Triangle Génération Humanitaire
Others: Sahrawi Red Crescent
Operational partners
Government agencies: The Directorate of Legal and Consular Affairs, Bureau Algérien pour les Réfugiés et les Apatrides, Sahrawi authorities' Departments of Justice, Water, Health, Education, Transport, Culture, Equipment, Women and Social Affairs, Youth and Training
NGOs: Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, Medico International, Oxfam Solidarité

| Financial information |

Over the past five years, the budget has steadily increased to cater for the growth in mixed migration flows using Algeria as a transit and destination country. More than 4,500 asylum-seekers approached the Office between 2009 and 2013 seeking protection, in the absence of a national asylum system. With regard to the protracted situation of Sahrawi refugees, humanitarian aid continues to be necessary as there are few economic opportunities for self-reliance measures.

In 2015, the comprehensive needs of refugees and asylum-seekers in Algeria are estimated at USD 33.2 million.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update

UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Algeria
Style of Address The UNHCR Representative in Algeria
Street Address 128 chemin Bachir El-Ibrahimi, Poirson,, El-Biar, 16000 Alger, Algeria
Mailing Address Boîte Postale 444, Hydra, Alger, Algeria
Telephone 213 21 92 40 83
Facsimile 213 21 92 40 93
Time Zone GMT + 0
Working Hours
Monday:8:30 - 17:00
Tuesday:8:30 - 17:00
Wednesday:8:30 - 17:00
Thursday:8:30 - 17:00
Sunday:8:30 - 17:00
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, New year
04 January 2015, El Mawlid Ennabaoui
06 July 2015, Independence Day
19 July 2015, Eid Al-Fitr
20 July 2015, Eid Al-Fitr
23 September 2015, Eid Al-Adha
24 September 2015, Eid Al-Adha
29 October 2015, Achoura
01 November 2015, Revolution day
24 December 2015, Christmas Day
The UNHCR Sub-Office in Tindouf
Style of Address The UNHCR Head of Sub-Office at Tindouf
Street Address 89 - 90 Rue Moussani, Tindouf, Algeria
Mailing Address P.O. Box 323, Tindouf, Algeria
Telephone 213 49 92 3555
Facsimile 213 49 924229
Time Zone GMT + 1
Working Hours
Monday:8:00 - 17:00
Tuesday:8:00 - 17:00
Wednesday:8:00 - 17:00
Thursday:8:00 - 17:00
Sunday:8:00 - 17:00
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, New year
04 January 2015, El Mawlid Ennabaoui
06 July 2015, Independence Day
19 July 2015, Eid Al-Fitr
20 July 2015, Eid Al-Fitr
23 September 2015, Eid Al-Adha
24 September 2015, Eid Al-Adha
29 October 2015, Achoura
01 November 2015, Revolution day
24 December 2015, Christmas Day


Statistical Snapshot*
* As at December 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  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 for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose applications for asylum or refugee status are pending at the end of 2014 at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during 2014. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during 2014.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
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 Algeria [1]
Refugees [2]
More info 94,128
According to the Government of Algeria, there are an estimated 165,000 Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf camps.
Asylum Seekers [3] 4,874
Returned Refugees [4] 3
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 99,005
Originating from Algeria [1]
Refugees [2] 3,523
Asylum Seekers [3] 5,143
Returned Refugees [4] 3
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 12
Total Population of Concern 8,681
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
More info 100,000
As at 15 January 2015
2013 100,000
2012 100,000
More info 100,000
Total contribution in USD: 100,000 [rank: 43]
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 100,000 [rank: 31]
Donor ranking per GDP: 41
Donor ranking per capita: 43
More info 100,000
Total contribution in USD: 100,000 (rank: 40)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 100,000 (rank: 29)
Donor ranking per GDP: 42
Donor ranking per capita: 48
More info 100,000
Total contribution in USD: 100,000 (rank: 41)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 100,000 (rank: 29)
Donor ranking per GDP: 44
Donor ranking per capita: 48
2008 60,000
2007 60,000
2006 60,000
2005 60,000
2004 50,000
2003 50,000
2002 50,000
2001 50,000
2000 50,000

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Western Sahara Family Visits

Emotions are running high in the Sahara desert as families split for nearly three decades by conflict over sovereignty of the Western Sahara Territory are being briefly reunited by a UNHCR family visit scheme.

Living in five windswept and isolated camps around Tindouf in south-western Algeria for the last 28 years, the refugees have been almost totally cut off from their relatives in the Territory. So when the UN refugee agency launched its five-day family visit scheme in March this year, there were tears of joy as well as apprehension at the prospect of reunion.

The visit scheme is proving extremely popular, with more than 800 people already having visited their relatives and another 18,000 signed up to go. In addition to the family visit scheme, the UN refugee agency has opened telephone centres in some of the camps, creating another channel through which long-lost family members can make contact.

Photos taken in June 2004.

Western Sahara Family Visits

Portugal: Sahrawi Cultural GatheringPlay video

Portugal: Sahrawi Cultural Gathering

People from Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria and from Western Sahara Territory meet for a cultural seminar in the Azores Islands as part of a confidence building measures programme.