Operation: Opération: Tunisia



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Key Figures

2019 planning figures
400 students will be enrolled in primary and  lower secondary education 
400 people, including government officials, judges, lawyers, staff in partner organizations, and members of civil society, will be trained on refugee issues
200 refugee households will receive cash grants
70 people of concern will be provided with training on financial literacy, language and entrepreneurship/business
280 people of concern will be provided with accommodations
100 people will be provided with psychosocial support and 260 families with material support
2017 year-end results
100% of people of concern had access to refugee status determination and to legal assistance
557 refugee and migrant households received seasonal and complementary items
405 people of concern, including 177 refugees with specific needs, received cash grants
302 lawyers, journalists and government officials were trained
114 people of concern received transitional shelter support
15 income-generating projects were supported, benefitting 34 people of concern

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2017 770
2016 685
2015 757


[["Refugees",722],["Asylum-seekers",47],["Others of concern",1]]
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2017 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[5.976656858,6.64456048,5.05078387,6.57069731,5.69484318,7.27029662],"expenditure":[4.41008572,3.59359927,3.59924158,4.20083949,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[5.976656858,6.64456048,5.05078387,6.57069731,5.69484318,7.27029662],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[4.41008572,3.59359927,3.59924158,4.20083949,null,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational context

The political context in Tunisia continued to be marked by pressing socio-economic challenges and frequent government re-shuffling, thus progress towards the adoption of a national asylum law is yet to be made.
Despite the challenges, a favourable protection environment in Tunisia allowed UNHCR and its partners to identify, protect and assist people of concern with counselling, cash assistance and non-food items. In 2017, to manage mixed movements more effectively and to identify people in need of international protection, an inter-agency profiling and referral system was out in place in southern Tunisia to manage mixed movements more effectively and to identify people in need of international protection.
Self-reliance remained a major issue for people of concern in Tunisia as the economy continued to be challenged by inflation, low growth and high unemployment. According to a socio-economic assessment conducted by UNHCR, 60 per cent of refugees consider that their basic financial needs were not satisfied. To support increased self-reliance for refugees, UNHCR facilitated access to employment and income-generating activities.

Population trends

At the end of 2017, Tunisia hosted some 720 refugees and 50 asylum-seekers, representing 22 different nationalities with the majority from Syrian Arab Republic (603), who arrived to Tunisia mostly irregularly through Algeria. In spite of mixed movements, the number of refugees did not grow substantially in 2017.

Key achievements

To strengthen protection space, UNHCR built capacity of local authorities and partners. UNHCR organized trainings for academics, lawyers, service providers and civil society actors.  Close to 90 border control officials were also trained to ensure that border control measures allow for the identification and referral of people in need of international protection within the context of mixed movements, including in the context of rescue at sea operations. As a result, on several occasions people rescued at sea were immediately referred to UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies.

Unmet needs

  • In order to reduce delays in issuance of documentation to refugees and asylum-seekers, there is need for increased personnel and outreach capacity dedicated to registration and refugee status determination.
  • In the context of continued inflation, 60 per cent of the refugees felt that their basic financial needs were not met, notably with regard to rent and health-care costs.
  • Some 52 per cent of refugee children did not have access to education as a result of mobility, age gaps and language barriers.


Working environment

The protection and operational environment in Tunisia remains favourable, despite the challenging political, socio-economic and security challenges in the country and in the region. 

In the absence of a national asylum law, registration and refugee status determination are conducted by UNHCR and its partners, including for people rescued at sea. There are some 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR in Tunisia. UNHCR implements several capacity-building programmes mainly targeting authorities, civil society and media. 

UNHCR continues working with the authorities on a draft national law that should strengthen the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers once adopted. Currently, refugees have access to basic services such as health and primary education in Tunisia, with UNHCR covering the cost for the most vulnerable people of concern. 

Key priorities

In 2017, UNHCR’s operation will focus on:
•    setting up a comprehensive national protection system, including the adoption and implementation of the National Asylum Law;
•    conducting refugee status determination;
•    providing assistance  with regard to access to education and health, cash assistance and non-food items and access to socio-economic opportunities; 
•    durable solutions for refugees.

In the event of a shortfall in funding, the operation will not be able to support people with special needs, such as health and psycho-social, through cash-based interventions. It will also impact livelihoods opportunities and, as a result, limit the integration and self-reliance of refugees in Tunisia.