Operation: Opération: Sudan



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
63,510 South Sudanese refugee students out of 154,802 (40%) were enrolled in primary and secondary education in the 2019-2020 academic school year
425 university students were provided with cash assistance
$1.2 million in cash assistance was distributed to 12,897 IDPs (2,360 IDP households)
100% of identified gender-based violence survivors were provided with assistance
90% of camp-based refugees had access to health services
2021 planning figures
64,000 IDPs and 25,000 refugee households will receive core relief items or the equivalent value in cash grants
50,000 refugees will receive shelter assistance
500 Sudanese refugee returnees will be provided with safe and dignified cash transfers
85% refugees will receive specialized protection assistance
75% refugee children with specific needs will receive assistance

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 3,612,234
2019 2,962,701
2018 2,965,646


[["Refugees",1040308],["Asylum-seekers",16024],["IDPs",2552174],["Returned refugees",30],["Others of concern",3698]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[167.16551602899997,202.25703226600004,255.89879875,268.71114289999997,274.72861377,356.33709999],"expenditure":[80.04125616999998,90.06267897999999,72.75113449,76.95209104999999,129.40007696,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[135.018613209,167.47883553600002,218.35645491,221.49875948,224.46563100999998,266.96935999],"p2":[1.54826576,2.4839356,2.0330931899999998,2.82095379,2.5766001099999998,2.576599],"p3":[null,6.313447,11.8467486,21.949236260000003,16.68855052,17.116252],"p4":[30.598637059999998,25.98081413,23.66250205,22.442193370000002,30.99783213,69.674889]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[70.44091682,83.95294052,60.249502719999995,61.25739179999999,101.85406967,null],"p2":[0.83128585,0.98464263,0.74312904,0.90402311,0.61261861,null],"p3":[null,null,3.56043989,3.80587383,4.48249246,null],"p4":[8.7690535,5.12509583,8.19806284,10.984802310000001,22.450896219999997,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

In 2020, the humanitarian situation in Sudan continued to be exacerbated by sociopolitical and economic upheaval. This unpredictable context saw a sustained influx of refugees primarily from South Sudan–and later in the year from Ethiopia’s Tigray region–cross the border in search of safety and protection. By the end of the year, the country was host to more than 3.6 million displaced people, of which some 1 million were refugees and 2.5 million IDPs. Refugees originated from the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen.

Economic conditions remained a key challenge throughout the year, with high inflation rates and widespread shortages of essential goods and services, including bread and fuel. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced further obstacles, by stretching the capacity of Sudan’s health system to its limits and constraining the implementation of several projects as a result of restrictions.

Despite these challenges, UNHCR in Sudan delivered much needed humanitarian assistance to over 151,000 internally displaced people across the country. In addition to this, the operation strengthened its IDP response in relation to protection and durable solutions through sustained advocacy and proactive community-based initiatives. UNHCR continued to build on the ongoing work of international actors to find lasting solutions for displaced people from Sudan and South Sudan following the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement in late-2020.

Population trends

By year end, Sudan was host to some 1 million refugees and asylum-seekers, of which 736,685 (70%) were from South Sudan, followed by Eritrea 122,465 (12%) and the Syrian Arab Republic 93,498 (9%). 51% of the population lived in out-of-camp settlements while 49% resided in camps across the country. There were 94,831 new refugee arrivals recorded in 2020 – a significant increase compared to the 18,645 new arrivals registered in 2019. This increase was due to an unprecedented outflow of some 55,000 refugees fleeing fighting in Ethiopia’s region into eastern Sudan in November and December 2020(Refugee population figures later reduced to about 45,000 following biometric registration and verification in early 2021.).

A further 2.5 million were internally displaced.

Key achievements

With close of half of the refugee population residing in camps across the country, UNHCR and partners supported the establishment and equipment of 20 COVID-19 isolation/quarantine facilities. These facilities were essential in containing the threat of COVID-19 and ensuring the safety and well-being of people of concern. In total, 90% of camp-based refugees had access to health services.

Access to potable water was also maintained with an average of 16 litres available per person per day. Along with prioritizing initiatives to prevent the spread of COVID-19, regular water, sanitation and hygiene activities continued to take place across all camps and settlements. UNHCR also prioritized prevention and response to gender-based violence, with 100% of identified gender-based violence survivors provided with assistance.

In total $1.2 million in cash assistance was distributed to 12,897 IDPs (2,360 IDP households) in 2020 in response to urgent shelter needs in six states including Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile.

In response to the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR provided emergency cash distribution covering more than 1,700 refugee households in Khartoum state from different nationalities. In addition, 1,328 households in Khartoum state were provided with multi-purpose cash assistance every six months through prepaid ATM cards under UNHCR’s unrestricted cash assistance programme.

Under UNHCR’s cash-for-education programme, 425 university students were provided with cash assistance through bank transfers and prepaid ATM cards.   

Unmet needs

  • UNHCR and partners’ capacity to deliver protection services was impacted by the volatile socioeconomic and political context in Sudan. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent country-wide lockdown further delayed the implementation of all activities including education where schools remained closed from March till the end of the year. Face-to-face registration exercises and face-to-face protection and capacity-building training were also suspended.
  • With the operation only 53% funded by year-end, refugees’ and asylum-seekers’ access to essential services was heavily impacted. For example, the provision of CRIs to 113,985 refugees in east Sudan could not be achieved, 44% of South Sudanese refugee households had not received sufficient soap for personal hygiene, including women and girls of reproductive age, and rehabilitation/construction of medical facilities could not be undertaken.
  • Limited funding prevented wide-scale birth registrations, leaving a total of 360,632 refugees and displaced persons at risk of statelessness.
  • Secondary education remained a crucial gap, resulting in extremely low transition rates from primary school to secondary school. Out of the 1,271 public secondary schools across the country, refugee enrolment accounted for only 5% of total national enrolments in 2020, of the 105,633 refugee children of secondary school age 14-17 years. 

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

Softly earmarked funding was instrumental in enabling UNHCR to promptly kickstart emergency responses, particularly following unprecedent flooding during the rainy season that displaced 900,000 people, with over 24,000 affected families receiving CRI kits, as well as in response to the influx of refugees from Tigray at the end of the year.

Working environment

The operational environment in Sudan is a complex mix of populations of concern, including asylum-seekers, refugees, IDPs, Sudanese refugee returnees and IDP returnees. Furthermore, Sudan is a source, transit and destination country for mixed movements in the continent and beyond.
Despite the recent positive developments in the establishment of a transitional government, it is expected that Sudan will continue to face severe macro-economic and political challenges. Overall, the situation remains fluid and humanitarian needs will further increase as underlying challenges are not expected to change in the immediate future.
UNHCR will work closely with the Government on safe and dignified voluntary return to Sudan, including related peacebuilding initiatives, and to ensure that the refugee protection space is maintained for those hosted in Sudan. The Sudanese Commissioner for Refugees will continue to be UNHCR’s government counterpart on protection, registration, camp management and overall coordination, while UNHCR will also continue strengthening coordination with line ministries, including the Ministries of Education, Health and Social Affairs. UNHCR will continue to work on IDP protection within the inter-agency agency framework.
Although Sudan has not yet formally committed to the CRRF, it is hosting a very large out-of-camp refugee population and has integrated refugees in the national education plan. UNHCR will continue to work closely with the Government of Sudan towards the implementation of CRRF.
In terms of inter-agency coordination and partnerships, UNHCR co-chairs with its government counterpart the monthly Refugee Consultation Forum (RCF), attended by all UN and NGO partners. Under the IDP response, UNHCR will continue to chair the protection and shelter/NFIs sector groups within the Humanitarian Country Team framework.  Furthermore, UNHCR works in the framework of the Regional Refugee Response Plan for the South Sudan situation.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Refugee and IDP protection, with a focus on refugee registration using proGres V4, documentation, protection monitoring and interventions, child protection and SGBV, community-based protection, and scaling up sectoral and multipurpose cash-based interventions for refugees.
  • Voluntary return and reintegration of Sudanese refugees and IDPs in safety and dignity, including peacebuilding and community support projects; durable solutions for refugees hosted in Sudan. Peacebuilding and community support projects. Provision of safe and dignified returnee transportation and accommodation and provision of cash grants to 36,000 Sudanese refugee returnees, conditions permitting. Voluntary repatriation of 2,250 refugees hosted by Sudan to neighbouring countries. 
  • Continuing to foster partnerships and coordination with authorities to address mixed movements.
  • Transitioning from emergency response to longer term interventions, including integration with national service systems in the spirit of the CRRF, and interim solutions for populations in Khartoum Open Areas.
  • Emergency preparedness for refugee influxes, IDP displacement and sudden onset emergencies (floods, Cholera) through enhanced protection capacity, pre-positioning, and the management of the Common NFI Pipeline of the Humanitarian Country Team.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

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  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
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  • 12-OCT-2021

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  • 09-OCT-2021

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  • 08-OCT-2021
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  • 06-OCT-2021
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  • 05-OCT-2021

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  • 04-OCT-2021

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  • 01-OCT-2021

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  • 30-SEP-2021

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