Middle East and North Africa
2013 UNHCR country operations profile - Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
The Middle East and North Africa region saw significant displacement in 2012. Ongoing unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) has forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee to neighbouring countries, while smaller groups of Syrians have sought protection in other States in the Gulf, North Africa, Europe and beyond. UNHCR and host Governments have registered more than 350,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and the number continues to rise. Moreover, an estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced as a result of the current conflict.
The number of Iraqi refugees registered in the region stands at some 148,000, with nearly 53,000 having returned to Iraq as of September 2012. Inside Iraq, there are more than 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of whom live in very challenging conditions in public buildings.
Yemen too witnessed significant displacement, with around half a million people internally displaced as a result of civil conflict and natural disasters. The country also hosts some 230,000 registered refugees, mainly from Somalia but also from Ethiopia and Eritrea, while the flow of new arrivals from the Horn of Africa continues. Nearly 80,000 people arrived in Yemen in mixed migratory flows during the first nine months of 2012.
In Egypt, UNHCR has registered a growing number of asylum- seekers from Syria, South Sudan and Sudan. The country now hosts more than 50,000 refugees and asylum-seekers.
In addition, more than 1,700 refugees and asylum-seekers are supported by UNHCR in Saloum, near the Egypt-Libya border, the majority of whom are awaiting resettlement to a third country.
In Israel there are more than 64,000 people of concern to UNHCR, 90 per cent of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan. The number of new arrivals in Israel has declined significantly as a result of deterrence measures which have been put in place, while reports of human rights abuses by smugglers and traffickers in the Sinai desert persist.
Though most of the 550,000 people who were internally displaced in Libya during the conflict in 2011 have returned to their areas of origin, there are still between 65,000 and 80,000 IDPs who have not been able to return to their homes. Meanwhile fresh fighting has resulted in the internal displacement of another 25,000 people. Libya is also a major mixed- migration route in the region, with refugees, asylum-seekers and economic migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, continuing to arrive in the country.
March 2012 saw the completion of the voluntary repatriation programme for Mauritanian refugees in Senegal. Over 24,000 Mauritanian refugees have returned home since the operation began in 2008.
In Tunisia, the Government remains committed to developing an asylum law and system. More than 3,600 refugees living in the Shousha transit camp have been submitted for resettlement since the launch of the Global Resettlement Initiative in 2011, of whom some 1,500 have already departed. UNHCR is working with its partners and the Government to find solutions for those who are unlikely to be resettled.
Two meetings were held in 2012 in Geneva to reinforce the Confidence-Building Measures (CBM) programme for Sahrawi refugees and their families in Western Sahara. The meetings saw participation from Morocco and the Frente Polisario, with Algeria and Mauritania as neighbouring countries, and UNHCR. The family visits programme has been expanded through the use of a larger aircraft. A seminar aiming to build a humanitarian bridge between Tindouf and Laayoune was held in 2012 in Portugal and saw the participation of Sahrawis from the camps in Tindouf and Western Sahara.
The fighting that erupted in Mali in January 2012 displaced hundreds of thousands of people inside the country and drove some 200,000 into neighbouring States. More than 100,000 Malians, mostly members of the Tuareg tribe, had sought refuge in Mauritania by the end of August, with more continuing to arrive daily. They are accommodated in a refugee camp in Mbera, 60 kilometres from the border, set up by UNHCR in coordination with the Mauritanian Government.
Through its Regional Office in Riyadh, UNHCR is strengthening its partnerships in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. A number of new alliances are being established to aid strategic collaboration and resource mobilization.
Strategic objectives in 2013
Ensure protection and humanitarian assistance for all people of concern in the region, whether in urban or camp settings
Confronted by the growing number of crises and protracted displacement situations in the region, UNHCR will seek to maintain and improve the protection space for people of concern and will solicit more international support for refugee- hosting States. A strong focus will be on the countries neighbouring Syria that host hundreds of thousands of refugees. UNHCR will give priority to the provision of protection and basic humanitarian assistance, as well as self-reliance opportunities, while searching for durable solutions.
Deliver protection and assistance, and achieve comprehensive solutions for people of concern for the Iraq situation
UNHCR will protect and assist Iraqi refugees in the region while searching for durable solutions, primarily resettlement, for the most vulnerable among them. It will also intensify protection and reintegration activities inside Iraq in order to assist the authorities to respond to the needs of the returnees, whether returning refugees or IDPs. Mechanisms to deal with the reception of returnees have been put in place.
Reach people of concern in mixed migratory movements in order to bridge protection gaps and ensure asylum space, particularly in Israel, Yemen and North Africa, including Egypt
UNHCR will work with Governments and partners to identify and respond to mixed- migratory movements across the region. The 10-Point Plan of Action will serve as a framework for the development of a regional strategy. Partnerships with Governments, UN agencies, NGOs and civil-society institutions will also be enhanced to promote the establishment of national legal frameworks and responsive asylum systems.
Continue humanitarian activities for Sahrawi refugees, and contribute to the international community's efforts to resolve the long-standing conflict
In consultation with the concerned parties, UNHCR will expand the programme of family visits between the Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf and their relatives in Western Sahara as part of the CBM programme. In addition, UNHCR will convene two additional seminars with participants from Tindouf and Laayoune. Assistance programmes in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf will continue.
Support and build the capacity of Governments to create asylum systems and procedures in line with international refugee law and other humanitarian principles
UNHCR aims to expand asylum space in the MENA region by promoting greater awareness of displacement issues and engaging with the national institutions responsible for refugees and asylum-seekers. It will provide these institutions with technical support, advice and training in refugee law. In addition, it will continue to advocate for alternatives to detention for refugees and asylum-seekers and work to strengthen civil- society networks.
Build and consolidate strategic partnerships with Governments, regional organizations and civil society to increase respect for the rights of people of concern to UNHCR, and mobilize resources for humanitarian assistance
UNHCR will continue to build new strategic partnerships with the Gulf countries, the League of Arab States, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, civil-society institutions and prominent individuals. UNHCR will coordinate with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on follow-up to the Ministerial Conference on Refugees in the Muslim World convened by the OIC in Ashgabat in 2012.
Increase preparedness and response capacity to cope with new emergencies in the region, while ensuring the basic safety of all staff
In light of the multiple refugee emergencies that have swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2012, sustained efforts will be made to enhance the emergency response capacity of all UNHCR's operations in the region. Contingency plans will be regularly updated and developments in the region will be closely monitored.
Identify and monitor protection gaps affecting stateless people and assist Governments to prevent and reduce statelessness
UNHCR has embarked on a comprehensive strategy and devised country-level work plans to address statelessness in the region. Important components of the strategy include extensive training on statelessness issues for UNHCR and partner staff, population profiling, legal mapping and the development of monitoring and intervention mechanisms.
Multiple new humanitarian crises in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 and 2012 have led to significant displacement across the region. This, coupled with several protracted crises that already existed, has stretched the capacity of UNHCR's operations and put significant strains on the societies and economies of the affected countries. The provision of protection and assistance to refugees and others of concern in the region may prove increasingly challenging as the numbers of refugees and IDPs grow and if security risks further constrain the scope of UNHCR's interventions.
While there is a deep-rooted tradition of hospitality and protection of those seeking asylum in the Middle East and North Africa region, an absence of legislative and administrative frameworks makes it difficult to respond adequately to asylum needs and mixed- migration movements. Of the 19 Middle East and North Africa countries covered, only seven (Algeria, Morocco, Israel, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Mauritania) are signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.
The initial 2012 budget for the Middle East and North Africa has been revised significantly to cover emerging needs related to the Syria, Mali and Yemen crises.
The 2013 budget of USD 593 million will be further revised to address additional needs related to the crisis in Syria, which could not be assessed at the time this budget was approved. The budget in this Appeal is based on the following broad assumptions:
The political environment in North Africa will gradually stabilize in 2013, with the return and reintegration of most of those who were uprooted in 2011.
The region will remain an important bridge for mixed- migratory movements, requiring a robust protection presence and improvements in Governments' capacity to provide adequate asylum space.
Ongoing unrest in Syria will continue to result in internal displacement, refugee outflows into neighbouring countries and an increased rate of return of Iraqi refugees back to their country. Limited secondary displacement of Iraqi refugees in Syria is also expected.
|UNHCR 2013 budget in the Middle East and North Africa (USD)|
(as of 30 June 2012)
|Egypt Regional Office||24,702,982||23,311,538||102,472||0||0||23,414,010|
|Western Sahara Confidence-Building Measures||13,222,319||10,381,831||0||0||0||10,381,831|
|Saudi Arabia Regional Office||4,296,791||3,288,262||295,922||0||0||3,584,184|
|Syrian Arab Republic||133,002,498||83,804,488||708,328||0||37,213,431||121,726,246|
|United Arab Emirates||3,761,362||3,146,529||70,932||0||0||3,217,461|
Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2013 Update