Senegal Regional Office


Operation: Opération: Senegal Regional Office



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Key figures

2017 year-end results
590 refugees  returned to their countries of origin, among whom 460 were Ivoirians and the remaining 130 from different nationalities
510 cases were submitted for resettlement
5 applicants in Senegal received certificates of nationality under naturalization process
2018 planning figures
4,500 refugees will be provided with safe and dignified returnee transport
1,000 refugees will receive residence permits
980 refugee children in Guinea will be enrolled in primary education
600 refugees will receive production kits or inputs for agriculture/livestock/fisheries activities
22 community-based committees/groups will be working on SGBV prevention and response

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2017 52,639
2016 50,160
2015 2,232,797


[["Refugees",48064],["Asylum-seekers",4418],["Returned refugees",42],["Stateless",115]]
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Senegal Regional Office

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2017 {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"budget":[74.64724902,54.57596349,75.809563009,38.72979498,31.317165885,38.90687605],"expenditure":[33.12579447,28.71450066,32.5813122,18.43963117,19.83492682,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[72.19908793,48.1256933,46.024679439,36.93162341,29.209452145,34.3852338],"p2":[0.58222409,1.12471019,1.948594,1.79817157,2.10771374,4.52164225],"p3":[0.23,0.21,null,null,null,null],"p4":[1.635937,5.11556,27.83628957,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[31.32846737,26.83959686,21.18515206,17.32054236,18.30306433,null],"p2":[0.33735044,0.64778659,0.8169717,1.11908881,1.53186249,null],"p3":[0.10815475,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[1.35182191,1.22711721,10.57918844,null,null,null]}
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  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
The Regional Office in Senegal covers UNHCR’s operations in Benin, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Operational context

West Africa continues to face waves of instability coupled with a rise in terrorist activities and attacks which have had a serious impact on security. UNHCR continued to respond to the humanitarian crises in Nigeria and Mali, which have caused displacement both internally and outside of these countries.
The majority of protracted refugees are de facto integrated into the host communities, living in the same conditions and facing many of the same challenges as the local populations. However, most of them do not have any legal alternative to their refugee status.
Although most countries of asylum offer a path to naturalization enshrined in their law, the implementation is often challenging. Administrative procedures for naturalization are often cumbersome, expensive and include numerous requirements. Moreover, some countries of asylum are reluctant to grant naturalization due to the perception that this may increase insecurity, violence and crime. Furthermore, there is fear that naturalization will create an economic burden.
For refugees who are citizens of ECOWAS Member States, some countries consider the ECOWAS provisions for freedom of movement and access to the labor market for ECOWAS citizens to be sufficient for their local integration, even though the provisions lack adequate safeguards to constitute a durable solution. Nevertheless, Guinea Bissau has recently officially signed an agreement to offer naturalization to all protracted refugees on its territory. 
Lack of civil documentation remains one of the biggest protection challenges in this region. Civil registration, including birth registration, coverage is very low.  At least 30 per cent of the population in the region is estimated to lack documentation proving their identity or nationality.

Population trends

  • Some 37,000 refugees remained in a protracted situation in Benin, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Key achievements

  • The first ever UNHCR solar-powered mobile registrations were successfully tested in Guinea Bissau and Senegal.
  • In Gambia, the Government facilitated local integration of refugees by increasing the validity/duration of the residence permit from 1 year to 5 years.
  • In Sierra Leone, 14 families (60 individuals) composed of exempted Liberians and refugees of other nationalities (Ivorian, Sudanese, and Malian) opted for local integration. Furthermore, the local integration package was reviewed and amended in order to make it more attractive for refugees.
  • In December 2017, the Government of Guinea Bissau signed an official protocol for local integration of refugees in a protracted situation, with a commitment to naturalize approximately 7, 000 refugees. The Government also reduced individual naturalization fees by 83 per cent.
  • In Senegal, 5 applicants, out of the 165 naturalization applications completed and submitted to the relevant authorities in 2017, were issued with certificates of nationality. These were mainly Mauritanian refugee spouses of Senegalese citizens.
  • The Government of Senegal agreed to issue birth attestations to Mauritanian refugees who do not have birth certificates in order to facilitate their legal local integration process.
  • UNHCR continued to explore and promote the use of cash-based interventions (CBI) in West Africa. As a result, the Guinea operation started to use CBIs in September 2017, while Togo operation started the delivery of cash grants in December 2017

Unmet needs

  • The reduction in resettlement quotas by the United States of America, the main resettlement partner in the region, left many vulnerable refugees without a durable solutions.
  • Reduced funding negatively impacted the ability to conduct adequate livelihood programs in most of the countries under RO Dakar purview.
  • Local integration through long-term permits or naturalization needs adequate resources which are normally not available.

Working environment

It is expected that West Africa will be home to more than 3 million people of concern to UNHCR by 2017. UNHCR will therefore continue to develop and implement strategies aiming to provide protection and assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers, people affected by or at the risk of statelessness, returnees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Peaceful elections were a milestone in a number of countries in West Africa. In late 2016, Gambia is expected to hold elections, with the current President seeking a fifth term in office. Ghana also plans to hold elections in 2016, which will likely be tightly contested. In Cabo Verde, the current President will be seeking a second term as head of State, after first taken the office in 2011.  In 2017, Liberia and Sierra Leone will also be holding general elections.
In Nigeria, violent conflict in the north-eastern region has resulted in the displacement of some 2.7 million people within the country and forced tens of thousands to seek refuge in neighboring countries.  While the situation will take some time to stabilize, the actions of the government in Abuja may help to gradually improve conditions for displaced populations.
With respect to Senegal, the relatively stable democracy of over 35 years may be undermined by the unresolved situation in Casamance.  A low intensity conflict continues to hinder the voluntary repatriation of Senegalese refugees from Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.  Although the spontaneous return of some Senegalese refugees has been reported over the last two years, a number of barriers, including unexploded ordnance and landmines, preclude return in greater numbers.

Key priorities

  • In Benin, UNHCR will focus on aligning the national legal framework with international standards.
  • In Gambia, solutions will be pursued, including through the local integration of Senegalese refugees through the acquisition of long-term residence permits or alternate status, or through voluntary repatriation.
  • In Guinea-Bissau, priority has been given to processing pending naturalization cases, the formalization of land rights and self-reliance interventions.
  • In Senegal, UNHCR will seek durable solutions for Mauritanians refugees in the form of local integration.
  • In Togo, local integration for Ghanaians refugees will be actively pursued through socioeconomic activities as well as through access to naturalization or long-term residence status.
  • In Sierra Leone, UNHCR will prioritize capacity building to phase down and hand over operations to the government.
  • With respect to statelessness, UNHCR will aim to implement the Abidjan Declaration on the eradication of statelessness, in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).