UNHCR Archive Gallery Algeria 1954 to 1962

Archives, 12 June 2009

© UNHCR/1965
Fleeing the turmoil of the Algerian war for independence, nearly 200,000 refugees had crossed in Tunisia and Morocco by 1960, three-quarters of whom were women, children and the elderly.

Beginning in 1954, conflict in Algeria displaced large numbers of people. After Tunisia and Morocco each gained independence in March 1956, Algerians in the border areas crossed into Tunisia and Morocco. This refugee group, consisting primarily of women, children, and the elderly, lived in poor conditions, and the relatively new governments of Tunisia and Morocco were unable to provide adequate assistance. In May 1957, Tunisia appealed to the UNHCR for assistance. Working with the League of Red Cross Societies, UNHCR began to provide food, clothing, and medical assistance to over 200,000 refugees. On 5 December 1958, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution requesting the High Commissioner "to continue his action on behalf of the refugees in Tunisia on a substantial scale and to undertake similar action in Morocco." Regular relief operations, with the League acting as the formal operational partner, began in February 1959.

In September 1959, UNHCR appointed Special Representatives in Tunis and Rabat to serve as liaison with the respective governments and to coordinate the international efforts to bring aid to the refugees. When peace was established between France and Algeria, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 1672 (XVI) on 18 December 1961 requesting the High Commissioner to "use the means at his disposal to assist in the orderly return of Algerian refugees in Morocco and Tunisia to their homes and [to] consider the possibility, when necessary, of facilitating their resettlement in their home land." On 18 March 1962, the Evian Agreements established tripartite commissions to organize the repatriation of the Algerian refugees. By July 1962, the majority of the refugees had been repatriated. At that point, the League took over, spearheading an international relief programme in the Algerian border areas to facilitate resettlement. UNHCR provided moral and policy support, and appealed for contributions.