Operation: Opération: Djibouti



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Key Figures

2020 planning figures
1,000 urban refugee households received food vouchers
307 cases were processed through the refugee eligibility procedure for asylum seekers
100% of refugees had access to primary health care
70% of refugee children were enrolled in the national education system
2021 planning figures
31,300 refugees and asylum-seekers will receive protection and assistance
500 people of concern will be targeted for enrolment in formal national institutions for certified skills training
200 newborns will be registered and issued a birth certificate under regular birth registration procedures (this is estimated to represent 100% of newborns in 2021)
100% of people of concern will have access to national primary health care facilities
95% of school-aged children will have access to the national education system
85% of households will have access to sustainable cooking energy
80% of people of concern who have expressed their intention to return will be facilitated to return to their country of origin

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 33,320
2019 30,794
2018 28,778


[["Refugees",21208],["Asylum-seekers",10811],["Others of concern",1301]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[31.98783036,31.80505653,26.7309307,16.9251478,17.674207850000002,18.109481260000003],"expenditure":[11.1475553,12.07126509,9.50894164,7.680364190000001,11.07586272,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[31.98783036,31.80505653,26.7309307,16.9251478,17.674207850000002,18.109481260000003],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[11.1475553,12.07126509,9.50894164,7.680364190000001,11.07586272,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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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

The Republic of Djibouti has suffered the full brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, with all aspects of life affected.

A general lockdown was decreed from 24th March to mid-May. A gradual opening up was then observed in the whole country.  The general lockdown disrupted economic activities and brought social life to a halt. As a result, workers from many sectors and services who lived from day to day lost all opportunities to earn daily income and support their households.

Living conditions have deteriorated sharply. In order to meet the most urgent needs, the government appealed to both large financial institutions and the generosity of wealthy Djiboutians to set up a COVID-19 solidarity fund. Life in refugee villages was impacted by this unprecedented health crisis as well, despite the food assistance provided by WFP throughout the year. Refugees adapted with the means and assistance that were made available.

Overall, 4 refugees tested positive for COVID-19 during 2020. At the end of 2020, UNHCR and the Ministry of Health agreed to proceed with sample testing of 1,000 individuals in refugee settings in January 2021, aiming to assess the scope of transmission.
The overall refugee situation in Djibouti remained stable throughout 2020 and the country continued to offer a favourable protection environment for refugees and asylum-seekers. Registration was maintained for the existing refugee and asylum-seeker population and for new arrivals.

The Government maintained a progressive policy of refugee inclusion within the national education and health care systems, with the aim of strengthening implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees. UNHCR worked with stakeholders to strengthen the socio-economic inclusion of refugees, including with regards to the COVID-19 emergency response.

Population trends

In 2020, Djibouti hosted 32,019 refugees (21,208) and asylum-seekers (10,811). Somali and Yemeni nationals were the largest refugee groups (13,558 and 5,666 respectively). The largest group of asylum-seekers were from Ethiopia (10,225 individuals from almost 2,800 households) and Eritrea (438 individuals from over 300 households). In 2020, the operation registered 229 new arrivals.

Key achievements

  • Through UNHCR’s partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Solidarity, 1,000 refugee households in urban settings and 200 Djiboutian households received food vouchers, helping alleviate the effects of COVID-19-related movement restrictions and loss of livelihoods.
  • Through the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Family and in partnership with IOM, 36 female refugees and 24 female Djiboutians were enrolled in apprenticeships in cooking, tailoring and hairdressing, as well as entrepreneurship skills. Participants received a startup cash grant for business development.
  • The Ministry of Education passed the decree on the “High School Leaving Certificate” for refugee children which allowed refugee children to sit in the final high school examination on the same basis as national children. In the 2019-2020 school year, 32 students took the exam.

Unmet needs

  • Due to funding constraints, only 6.7% of Somali refugee households had adequate shelter, while others remained in emergency shelters.
  • Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, UNHCR was unable to facilitate the voluntary repatriation for 1,000 Ethiopian refugees and asylum-seekers who had expressed their desire to return.
  • 68.4% of refugee children were out of school. Schools in Ali-Addeh and Holl-Holl refugee settlements were far below the required standards with a classroom to pupil ratio for primary at 1:80, latrine to pupil ratio at 1:200, teacher to pupil ratio at 1:80. An additional 70 classrooms are needed as are 80 additional teachers and teaching and learning materials in order to meet Ministry of Education expectations and be aligned with national education protocols for refugee children inclusion. 

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

Flexible funding enabled the operation to respond to urgent needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak as well as to support the underfunded Yemen refugee situation and emergencies related to flooding and drought.

Working environment

The promulgation of National Refugee Law in Djibouti in January 2017 ensures a favourable protection environment for refugees and enables them to enjoy fundamental rights, including access to social services and self-reliance. This new legislation paves the way for the socio-economic integration of refugees.
People of concern have been included in the national education system since September 2017. In January 2018, UNHCR and the Ministry of Health agreed to include refugees in the national health system. To enhance this inclusion, UNHCR signed an agreement with the Ministry of Social Affairs in January 2019 for refugees’ inclusion in the social protection system (which includes the public health insurance), following a profiling exercise of refugees at household and individual level. This exercise was ongoing in September 2019.
In 2020, UNHCR in Djibouti plans to enhance its relationships with key stakeholders, prioritizing partnerships to address immediate issues and long-term objectives in the refugee response. It will continue to actively engage Government authorities, donors, UN agencies, private sector entities and NGOs to achieve common objectives in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework approach and development priorities.
UNHCR will participate in all UN Country Team coordination meetings and exercises, targeting agency cooperation and collaboration to assist refugees. It will strengthen partnerships with UN agencies to ensure refugees’ access to education, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation services. In 2019, the operation signed a long-awaited tripartite agreement with WFP and the Ministry of Social Affairs to extend health insurance coverage to refugees.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will:
  • Strengthen the refugee status determination procedure in Djibouti, in coordination with the Government, following the enactment of the national refugee law in December 2017.
  • Ensure refugees’ access to social services, such as health care, education and employment opportunities, is equal to nationals’ access.
  • Reinforce the socio-economic integration of refugees in Djibouti, in recognition of their rights and self-reliance.
  • Prioritize programmes boosting people of concern’s legal protection, education, health and self-reliance
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