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Middle East and North Africa

2015 UNHCR regional operations profile - Middle East and North Africa (MENA)


UNHCR 2015 Middle East regional operations map

  • The Middle East and North Africa region continues to face multiple and complex emergency situations on an unprecedented scale, that are likely to pose further overwhelming challenges in 2015. This region is also one of origin, destination and transit of refugees and migrants. Many of those caught up in mixed migratory movements are victims of smuggling and trafficking as they face perilous journeys, notably by sea.

  • The humanitarian situation in Syria remains extremely challenging. In the fourth year of the conflict, there are more than 3 million Syrian refugees in the region. In addition, over 50,000 Syrians have sought asylum in more than 90 countries outside the region. Inside Syria, an estimated 10.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including some 6.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs). The security situation remains volatile, and humanitarian access is a continuing challenge. Between January and September 2014, UNHCR supported more than 3 million IDPs with more than 11 million core relief items (CRIs). In 2015, further mobilization of response and support for both IDPs and the millions of refugees now residing outside the country will continue to be critical to save lives and help keep people in displacement safe and well (see box on the Syria situation).

  • In Iraq, the deteriorating security situation and armed conflict in Anbar and Ninewa Governorates have triggered new waves of internal displacement. As estimated by the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), some 1.8 million people were displaced by insecurity in Iraq between January and September 2014, and heavy fighting has continued to force people to flee to other parts of the country. Many of the displaced have sought safety in the Kurdistan Region, which is also hosting more than 95 per cent of Syrian refugees in Iraq, in addition to thousands of other IDP and refugee groups. In August 2014, the Iraqi internal displacement situation was declared a UN system-wide Level-3 emergency. UNHCR rapidly scaled up its response to the IDP crisis and launched a massive logistics operation to bring in relief supplies by air, land and sea. This largest single aid operation organized by UNHCR in more than a decade targeted some 500,000 IDPs. As for the Syrian situation, this emergency will clearly continue to mobilize enormous resources in 2015, including for winterization measures as the cold season approaches (see box on the Iraq situation).

  • The security situation in Libya is increasingly volatile with at least 140,000 Libyans displaced within the country by recent fighting, as of September 2014. UNHCR and national partners are involved in the distribution of CRIs, including medical supplies and in monitoring missions into Libya to assess the needs and provide assistance to IDPs. Contingency plans have been developed by the Governments of Tunisia and Egypt in coordination with UNHCR to deal with potential further displacement across Libya's borders.

  • Yemen continues to face a complex humanitarian situation characterized by ongoing insecurity, localized conflicts, water scarcity and the extreme poverty of growing numbers of the population. These challenges are exacerbated by rising prices and economic difficulties that contribute to reduced access to food and safe water, basic state services and livelihood opportunities. Yemen's malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world. The number of people internally displaced rose significantly in 2014 as a result of recent conflicts, with over 334,000 people registered as IDPs across the country. In addition, Yemen hosts 246,000 registered refugees, 95 per cent of whom are Somalis.


UNHCR's protection strategy for the region will take into consideration the operational priorities specific to each situation.

However, overall throughout the Middle East and North Africa region, UNHCR's strategic priorities in 2015 are: to deliver innovative operational responses, including life-saving assistance; to ensure protection for all people of concern with a particular focus on the most vulnerable, especially those in urban areas; to seek durable solutions, including resettlement as a protection tool; and to continue to respond to ongoing emergencies.

In the context of the Syria and Iraq situations, UNHCR will continue to coordinate the refugee responses, together with more than 150 partners in the case of the Syria regional response (see boxes). This will include support for host countries that are providing assistance and support services for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the region. Cash-assistance programmes targeting the most vulnerable people of concern, and registration activities, will continue to be a priority in 2015.

Throughout the region, UNHCR will pursue its efforts towards the protection of urban refugees, the delivery of assistance and burden sharing with the governments and host communities.

Owing to the ongoing crises and complex operating environment in the region, the prospects for durable solutions for large proportions of the refugee populations remain limited; innovative approaches in delivering assistance when dealing with the implications of protracted displacement will therefore have to be pursued.

To respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and to address refugee child protection issues, UNHCR will continue to implement a multi-sectoral, coordinated and community-based approach to prevent and respond to SGBV and prioritize activities aimed at strengthening national and community-based child protection systems.

Working towards the establishment of responsive national asylum systems and the promotion of protection-sensitive management of mixed migration movements will also be key priorities, particularly in North Africa. In Yemen, UNHCR will strengthen refugee status determination activities and legal counselling. Detention monitoring and advocacy will also be prioritized.

To achieve its goals for 2015, UNHCR will continue to strengthen its partnerships with States, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civil society across the region, and in particular will continue to widen and deepen its relations with key actors in countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.


In addition to the sheer scale of needs, increasingly complex protection issues are arising from the emergency situations in the region. Insecurity is challenging the delivery of humanitarian operations and limiting access to people of concern. In addition, the unstable and unpredictable political situations in the region are ongoing concerns for UNHCR operations.

Countries in North Africa continue to face the challenges posed by mixed migratory movements, including smuggling and trafficking, of migrants and refugees, in transit to Europe or to other destinations in North Africa. The movement of increasing numbers of refugees and migrants who resort to dangerous boat trips across the Mediterranean, at grave risk to their lives, are an ever-growing concern.

With more than 85 per cent of refugees living among host communities across the region, the dire situation of urban refugees demands special attention. In particular, many Syrian refugees in large cities are living in extreme poverty and are being forced to resort to harmful coping mechanisms for their survival.


The worsening security, political and social situations in large parts of the region explain the dramatic increase in UNHCR's financial requirements for the Middle East and North Africa: from USD 651 million in 2011 to a revised 2014 budget of USD 1.76 billion, as a result of the response to the Syria and Iraq crises.

In 2015, the financial requirements for the region are set at USD 1.89 billion. These requirements are based on best estimates using information available as of mid-2014.

In light of the evolving situation in Syria and Iraq, any additional requirements related to these emergencies will be presented in the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for Syrian refugees and impacted communities (3RP), the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP), and in a supplementary appeal for the Iraq Situation. They will undergo further review in the course of the year as required.

UNHCR 2015 budgets for the Middle East and North Africa (USD)
Operation 2014
Revised budget
(as of 30 June 2014)
Total 1,758,210,772 1,464,299,709 3,897,994 35,763,788 382,526,549 1,886,488,041
1. As from 2015 Kuwait is reported under Saudi Arabia Regional Office.
Iraq 311,967,182 136,096,621 2,045,988 35,763,788 56,629,011 230,535,408
Israel 2,934,409 3,207,939 0 0 0 3,207,939
Jordan 352,882,579 404,432,393 0 0 0 404,432,393
Kuwait[1] 5,000 0 0 0 0 0
Lebanon 471,872,116 555,537,603 1,242,275 0 0 556,779,878
Saudi Arabia Regional Office 4,266,486 4,577,895 320,000 0 0 4,897,895
Syria Regional Refugee Coordination Office 17,425,583 20,537,705 0 0 0 20,537,705
Syrian Arab Republic 320,223,482 52,557,990 179,730 0 309,778,397 362,516,117
United Arab Emirates 3,372,493 2,890,951 110,000 0 0 3,000,951
Yemen 56,726,371 44,869,802 0 0 14,668,309 59,538,111
Regional activities 22,015,977 60,640,011 0 0 0 60,640,011
Subtotal 1,563,691,679 1,285,348,911 3,897,994 35,763,788 381,075,716 1,706,086,409
Algeria 32,708,250 33,227,036 0 0 0 33,227,036
Egypt Regional Office 99,014,244 85,170,372 0 0 0 85,170,372
Libya 19,722,146 18,212,314 0 0 1,450,833 19,663,147
Mauritania 23,990,818 24,368,374 0 0 0 24,368,374
Morocco 3,588,701 3,516,919 0 0 0 3,516,919
Tunisia 6,006,778 6,394,560 0 0 0 6,394,560
Western Sahara (Confidence Building Measures) 8,838,157 7,213,152 0 0 0 7,213,152
Regional activities 650,000 848,071 0 0 0 848,071
Subtotal 194,519,094 178,950,799 0 0 1,450,833 180,401,632

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update




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