Operation: Opération: Algeria



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
2,010 refugee families received replacement tents and repairing materials through the regular shelter programme in the five Sahrawi camps near Tindouf
1,170 refugees received multipurpose cash assistance to cover basic needs; 239 refugees were provided with cash grants to secure safe accommodation in Algiers
376 refugees and asylum-seekers were enrolled in public schools in Algiers with the support of UNHCR
163 refugees and asylum-seekers with specific needs received individual psychological support in Algiers
80 refugees were recommended to third countries for resettlement, with four departing during the year
100%  of primary school-aged Sahrawi children had access to education
100% of Sahrawi refugees had access to primary healthcare
2021 planning figures
Urban refugees and asylum-seekers
650 refugees and vulnerable asylum-seekers will be provided with multipurpose cash assistance
250 refugees and asylum-seekers living in urban areas and with psychosocial needs will receive psychosocial support 
220 refugees will be provided with safe housing
100 gender-based violence survivors will be referred to appropriate care
Refugees from Western Sahara
1,005 shelter maintenance tool kits and materials will be provided to refugees
20 litres of potable water will be available on average per person, per day
15 health facilities will be equipped with medical supplies, constructed or rehabilitated
100% of primary school-aged refugee children will be enrolled in primary schools

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2020 99,810
2019 100,270
2018 103,276


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

Algeria remained a country of transit and destination for refugees and asylum-seekers from 41 nationalities, both in urban areas and in the five Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated closure of borders significantly affected refugees and those seeking asylum in Algeria, with limited access to territory, diminished livelihood opportunities and heightened protection risks.

UNHCR adapted its interventions during the pandemic, maintaining life-saving assistance by reinforcing direct contact and feedback mechanisms. The Operation continued to maintain key activities including registration, refugee status determination and documentation, while advocating for a comprehensive national asylum and protection framework.

In Tindouf, UNHCR continued providing life-saving humanitarian assistance in the areas of WASH, health, energy, food, shelter and livelihoods. The Sub-Office also worked to strengthen pre-existing health services and medical referral systems, providing incentives to health workers, rehabilitating and equipping hospitals, and supplying personal protective equipment.

Population trends

At the end of 2020, a total of 9,866 refugees and asylum-seekers from 41 different nationalities were registered in urban areas; 7,663 were refugees (including Syrians) and 2,203 were asylum-seekers whose requests were pending determination. Of the total registered individuals, 36% were women, 33% children and 1,259 persons with specific needs.

In the camps in Tindouf, UNHCR continued to provide support to the 90,000 most vulnerable Sahrawi refugees.

Key achievements

  • To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and deliver lifesaving assistance for asylum-seekers at heightened risk in Algiers, UNHCR provided multipurpose cash assistance to over 1,170 refugees and asylum-seekers between March and December 2020, using adapted distribution methods such as home delivery by mobile teams.
  • UNHCR facilitated the enrolment of 376 refugee and asylum-seeking children in public schools in Algiers, covering fees and providing transport for 30 refugee children to attend primary schooling. In Tindouf, some 22,358 Sahrawi children were enrolled in primary education in the camps, 8,230 children in kindergartens, while 7,845 students were enrolled in secondary education centers.
  • In line with the first phase of the multi-year plan to improve sustainable access to water in the camps in Tindouf, UNHCR extended the water network in Awserd camp, achieving 90% of the total works by the end of 2020.
  • UNHCR rehabilitated and equipped the central hospital of Rabouni near Tindouf, including a central oxygen system to service key wards (emergency, paediatrics, inpatient, gynaecology). UNHCR also supported renovation projects for the regional hospital in Boujdour camp and covered 85% of laboratory and X-ray equipment required by the 15 health centres, resulting in 40% fewer health referrals outside the camp.

Unmet needs

The onset of COVID-19 created unforeseen challenges and resulted in already insufficient funding being stretched even further, including:
  • Access to asylum and registration remained limited, with no arrangements in place for the identification, reception and referral of persons in need of international protection. UNHCR had limited access to areas outside the capital, including along the border. As a result, only people who approached UNHCR’s office in Algiers could be registered.
  • Lack of funds limited UNHCR’s cash assistance and medical and shelter support to asylum-seekers in Algiers. Support for education, including transportation, school supplies, tutorial classes, and enrolment in primary learning was also constrained by limited funding.
  • In Tindouf, 13,161 households were without replacement shelters following a severe sandstorm in September 2020, with 3,156 families awaiting urgent rehabilitation and shelter materials
  • In Tindouf, 15% of needs relating to laboratory and X-ray supplies were not covered.. Only 70% of essential drugs were covered, with rehabilitation and equipping of health infrastructure still pending.
  • In Tindouf, the refilling of one gas cylinder per family per month covered only 50% of households’ energy needs for ten months.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

Thanks to flexible funding, UNHCR was able to reallocate funds to meet urgent needs and reprioritize certain activities, including:
  • To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and provide life-saving assistance for asylum-seekers at heightened risk in Algiers, UNHCR expanded its multipurpose cash assistance programme; since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, over 1,170 refugees and asylum-seekers received cash assistance through  adapted methods.  
  • To encourage continuous learning for students in the camps in Tindouf, the Operation was able to procure 60,000 textbooks, with the aim of providing one book per student engaged in both distance and in-person learning.  
  • Sustainable water distribution networks were introduced in Awserd camp in Tindouf, including 34,528 meters of pipeline, 228 water taps and installing a 320 cubic meter storage tank. As a result, access to water and health conditions in the camp were significantly improved, avoiding a reliance on inefficient transport and water storage solutions, as well as water-borne diseases.

Working environment

The operational context for UNHCR in Algeria is characterized by limited access at border areas and in large parts of the country where asylum-seekers and refugees first arrive. In the absence of national asylum legislation, there are no identification/referral mechanisms and very limited reception centres or facilities for asylum-seekers and refugees arriving to Algeria. Nevertheless, refugees and asylum-seekers in urban areas have access to public education and health care in Algeria.
The Government of Algeria has provided long-standing support to refugees from Western Sahara and has invested in improving the living conditions in the refugee camps near Tindouf, through allocation of land and infrastructure improvements. Refugees also have access to secondary education and auxiliary health care services.
UNHCR’s direct counterparts for matters relating to refugees are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Algerian Office for Refugees and Stateless Persons within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the framework of the UNCT, UNHCR collaborates with other UN agencies supporting the Sahrawi refugee programme in Tindouf, including WFP for food assistance and UNICEF for health and education and youth activities.

Key priorities

For refugees and asylum-seekers in urban areas, UNHCR’s main priorities will be to continue engaging with the State for responsibility over refugee protection and advocating for improved protection space in urban areas. UNHCR will continue to monitor and advocate against arrest and refoulement, while registrations of people of concern will be ongoing. Regarding refugees from Western Sahara, UNHCR will continue addressing the life-saving needs of the Sahrawi refugees and aim to provide more comprehensive humanitarian assistance in coordination with other humanitarian partners.   
For refugees and asylum-seekers in urban areas, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Improving access to territory and reducing risk of refoulement by continuing to advocate for the adoption of the refugee law and building the capacity of the national asylum system.
  • Strengthening services for persons living with specific needs by advocating for better access of refugees and asylum-seekers in urban areas to national services, such as child protection services, services for SGBV survivors and for persons living with disabilities.
For refugees from Western Sahara, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Guaranteeing continued operation of the existing water system in the five camps through infrastructure improvements, system management and community engagement.
  • Improving health and nutrition outcomes among the population through providing medical staff incentives and rehabilitating facilities to enhance healthcare provision, and through providing nutrition supplements and strengthening community-based management.
  • Improving the quality of and access to education by providing adequate student and teaching materials. Students will also be supported with scholarships to Algeria universities.
  • Enhancing livelihoods by developing camp networks and the entrepreneurial environment, facilitating the expansion of existing businesses and establishment of youth businesses, and supporting vocational training.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

    private donors

  • Brazil

    private donors

  • Philippines

    private donors