Middle East and North Africa
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With some 15.6 million forcibly displaced and stateless people, the Middle East and North Africa region accounts for 24 per cent of UNHCR's budget in 2023, with most funds going towards basic needs, cash assistance and shelter.
The region continues to face economic, political and security challenges, and the needs of the internally displaced, refugees and returnees remain high. They lack access to essential services and need UNHCR's support in promoting their self-reliance and integration into national systems and social protection schemes.
In 2023, two new emergencies have intensified existing hardships. Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria severely affected both countries, and a record 15.3 million Syrians, including 6.8 million internally displaced inside Syria, urgently require humanitarian assistance and protection. Furthermore, the conflict in Sudan has resulted in a substantial influx into Egypt, further straining Egypt's resources and infrastructure.
Even in protracted situations like Jordan and Lebanon, the impact of the Syria crisis and recent socio-economic challenges have been devastating. In Lebanon, 90 per cent of Syrian refugees now find themselves living in conditions of extreme poverty. Food prices have surged by 332 per cent since June 2021, pushing 94 per cent of refugee households to incur debt just to meet their essential needs. In Jordan, two-thirds of refugees have reported that their financial situation has worsened in the last 12 months, and a recent analysis conducted by UNHCR suggests that household debt has increased.
UNHCR continues its strategic efforts to protect, assist and pursue durable solutions for affected populations in the region.
In Iraq, relative stability has created a unique opportunity for displaced Iraqis, returnees, and refugees to be more included in public services and social protection schemes provided by the Government. Nevertheless, years of conflict have reduced the capacity and resilience of national institutions, making the country susceptible to internal and external shocks.
Yemen remains one of the worst humanitarian crises globally and is a major protection and displacement crisis. After more than eight years of devastating and unrelenting conflict, over 21 million people - two-thirds of the population - need humanitarian assistance, including 4.5 million internally displaced people and more than 71,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, the majority being women and children.
UNHCR plays a key role in the inter-agency response for internally displaced people by leading the Protection, Camp Coordination & Camp Management, and Shelter/Non-Food Items Clusters. UNHCR also co-leads the Refugee and Migrant Multi-Sector cluster. UNHCR is the sole international agency addressing the protection and well-being of refugees and asylum-seekers across Yemen, mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia. While assisting all displaced people in finding durable solutions, UNHCR provides crucial protection and life-saving services such as child protection, psychosocial support, education, shelter, healthcare and cash assistance. Host communities also benefit from the same services.
UNHCR's work in the region
Across the region, our staff deliver life-saving assistance to millions who have been driven from their homes. UNHCR works to protect refugees, displaced and stateless people by advocating for their rights, providing assistance that supports their basic needs and helping them access livelihood opportunities.
Together with partners, we advocate for improved asylum laws and systems and for durable solutions, enabling people to make free and informed decisions regarding their future, either through sustainable return when possible or building a future in a new country.
UNHCR further works to prevent and reduce statelessness in the region by identifying and protecting stateless people and those at risk of statelessness.
UNHCR continues to co-lead with UNDP the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) in response to the Syria crisis, coordinating the work of more than 270 partners in support of national efforts in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Türkiye. The 3RP connects the response with longer-term national strategies for inclusive growth and sustainable development.
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The Syria crisis, currently in its 13th year, remains one of the world's largest displacement crises, with over 12 million Syrians forcibly displaced in the region. Some 5.2 million Syrian refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries amid worsening socio-economic and humanitarian conditions.
Inside Syria, even before the deadly earthquake, over 14.6 million people – over two-thirds of the population – required humanitarian assistance. The earthquake exacerbated the perilous situation for millions of vulnerable Syrians, creating a crisis within a crisis.
UNHCR supports refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and returning refugees and IDPs by providing multisectoral assistance to those most in need.
MENA Civil Society Network for Displacement
The Middle East and North Africa Civil Society Network for Displacement (MENA CSND) is a network for civil society actors to collaborate and develop common strategies for the protection and support of refugees and host communities in the region.
The platform aims to allow for cross-regional, joint multi-stakeholder advocacy to positively influence public narratives and displacement-related policymaking.
To prevent and reduce statelessness and identify and protect stateless communities, UNHCR provides legal assistance, seeks improved access to civil documentation, and engages in capacity-building and advocacy, including by promoting every child’s right to a nationality and advancing gender-equal nationality rights.
UNHCR worked with the International Institute for Humanitarian Law on training for government officials and other key interlocutors. We also organized a conference with the League of Arab States on implementing the “Arab declaration on belonging and legal identity”.
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Over seven years of conflict have resulted in Yemen enduring one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Some 23.4 million Yemenis (73 per cent of the population) rely on humanitarian aid for their survival, and millions have fled their homes.
UNHCR is the main agency addressing the protection and well-being of over 98,000 refugees and asylum-seekers across Yemen, mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia, while encouraging other agencies to extend their services to this population.
Through facilities in refugee-hosting areas, UNHCR provides a series of protection services to extremely vulnerable displaced Yemeni, as well as cash assistance to meet their most basic and pressing needs.
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Iraq hosts over 290,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, as well as 1.2 million internally displaced people, some of whom face significant barriers to return or to effective local integration.
UNHCR is scaling up its efforts to empower displaced and host communities to become more resilient and better equipped to mitigate protection risks and access solutions. Such efforts include promoting social protection systems, and strengthening their access to public services and employment opportunities.
Learn more about the Iraq emergency here.
Planning for the Middle East and North Africa
The Global Report presents the work carried out by UNHCR in 2022, highlighting the year's achievements and challenges faced in responding to multiple life-threatening crises and ever-growing humanitarian needs.
Reporting for the Middle East and North Africa
Global Appeal provides information about UNHCR’s plans for the coming year and the funding it needs to protect, assist and empower forcibly displaced and stateless people, and to help them find solutions to their situations.