Middle East

Operational information on the Middle East subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format. This subregion covers the following countries:

| Bahrain | Iraq | Israel | Jordan |Kuwait | Lebanon | Oman | Qatar | Saudi Arabia| Syrian Arab Republic | United Arab Emirates | Yemen |


Subregion: Middle East


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The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.


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  • 2019
  • 2020

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Middle East

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2019 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[1767.4560615700002,1956.1382439289998,1911.753328647,2030.943688046,2243.50849637,2474.5215851069997],"expenditure":[1099.4885721199998,1059.45956475,1212.9320557,1089.34285307,1127.37769918,1110.7386051600001]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[1071.2931511699999,1171.649811879,1074.174511887,1079.942153164,1120.2262255,1308.8004138499998],"p2":[3.83262054,3.89799389,2.28713136,1.61649358,1.31344453,1.6335431],"p3":[39.59885527,35.763788049999995,26.70785472,146,259.2,259.38285378],"p4":[652.73143459,744.8266501100001,808.5838306799999,803.385041302,862.76882634,904.7047743769999]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[712.10525101,715.5914882000001,751.4589796,715.37560334,697.42488086,690.24972764],"p2":[3.0784008,2.16809421,1.48631248,0.96258046,0.86427745,1.10033708],"p3":[10.53576239,11.329619560000001,1.89021959,4.841297559999999,29.36963591,17.18097997],"p4":[373.76915792,330.37036278,458.09654402999996,368.16337171,399.71890496,402.20756047000003]}
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People of Concern - 2019

[["Refugees",2173369],["Refugee-like situation",14332],["Asylum-seekers",148694],["IDPs",11187342],["Returned IDPs",977664],["Returned refugees",95081],["Stateless",370515],["Others of concern",41149]]
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Response in 2019

The Middle East region continued to bear some of the most adverse and prolonged humanitarian crises globally, with complex drivers including ongoing hostilities and a lack of political solutions. As a result, emergency assistance remained at the forefront of the operational response in 2019, in tandem with work that focused on preserving protection space and creating conditions for people of concern to voluntarily return in safety and in dignity

In Iraq, the overall security and political situation remained stable until October 2019, when mass demonstrations erupted across the central and southern governorates. Regional tensions also escalated towards the end of the year, further compromising efforts towards stability, transition and reconciliation. While 4.6 million people had returned to their communities since the height of the conflict in 2014, some 1.4 million people remained internally displaced in Iraq - more than half of whom had been displaced for at least three years. Despite significant efforts to rebuild the country and revitalize local economies, significant challenges hindered return in 2019. These included security concerns, lack of social cohesion, documentation issues, limited livelihood opportunities, as well as destroyed or damaged housing. Protection risks for IDPs and returnees also remained acute, with many families affected by physical insecurity, limited freedom of movement, confiscation of documents, detention, forced evictions, and increased risk of sexual gender-based violence (SGBV). Meanwhile, some 280,000 Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers were hosted in neighbouring countries by the end of year.

The Syria situation remained one of the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis in the world.  With the crisis in its ninth year, more than 6.1 million Syrians remained internally displaced and over 5.5 million Syrian refugees were hosted in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Inside the Syrian Arabic Republic (Syria), humanitarian access to areas with IDPs and returnees remained challenging. While internal displacement decreased in 2019 compared to previous years, new large-scale displacements continued to be recorded, particularly in the north-east and north-west of the country. Despite security and operational challenges, UNHCR and partners reached approximately 1.7 million people inside Syria with protection activities, 1.8 million people with core relief items, and over 520,000 people with emergency and long-term or permanent shelter support. Under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, UNHCR continued to conduct cross-border interventions from Turkey, assisting more than 358,000 people with core relief items and shelter assistance, and reaching over 153,000 people with protection services.

The level and pace of return movements gradually increased over the year. From January to December 2019, UNHCR verified the return of around 95,000 refugees to Syria from neighbouring countries. Surveys conducted by UNHCR to gauge the intention of Syrian refugees indicated that at least three-quarters of the population hoped to return one day. UNHCR maintained a comprehensive approach in pursuing the full range of durable solutions for Syrian refugees. For those who chose to return, the Office provided an array of support, including documentation and counselling, and solutions for unaccompanied or separated children.

UNHCR continued to lead the regional refugee and resilience plan in response to the Syria crisis (3RP), together with UNDP. Built around government-led national plans and cost-effective and innovative programming, the 3RP is carried out through a coalition of over 270 partners. In 2019, 3RP partners, in support of national efforts, reached over 3.3 million Syrian refugees and members host communities with health and nutrition services, enrolled over 1.3 million children in education, provided almost 580,000 households with basic needs assistance (including in-kind support and cash assistance), assisted more than 1.5 million people with food, and provided over 110,000 children with child protection and psycho-social support programmes.
The situation in Yemen remained dire for some 24.1 million people, with active conflict and political instability leading to further protracted displacement. Clashes across multiple governorates both in the north and south were recorded throughout the year, with civilians bearing the brunt of the hostilities. The Stockholm Agreement for Hudaydah remained only partially implemented, as both sides reported violations of the ceasefire and de-escalation terms. Blockades and restrictions on humanitarian aid negatively impacted people of concern, while unprecedent rains and flooding drove outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria. Meanwhile, the capacity of communities to host some 279,000 refugees and asylum-seekers was further stretched, with people of concern from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia facing increasing risk of arbitrary arrest, detention, limited livelihood opportunities and a breakdown in local services. Despite a challenging operational context, UNHCR continued to support solutions for refugees and asylum-seekers through voluntary repatriation, resettlement and complementary pathways, while expanding livelihood opportunities for IDPs through income-generating activities and multipurpose cash assistance.   

Operations in Middle East in 2019

For countries in the Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), UNHCR continued its advocacy and resource-mobilization activities throughout 2019. The ‘Refugee Zakat Fund’ was launched with the support of Gulf States as an efficient, Shariah-compliant structure to assist vulnerable refugees and IDPs globally with cash assistance, with some $40 million raised to assist over 600,000 beneficiaries in its first year. UNHCR meanwhile continued to advocate for the development of national asylum frameworks, providing support and advice to the Governments of Kuwait and Qatar on national legislative measures protecting people of concern.
While the operational environment remained limited in the sub-region, UNHCR continued to provide protection assistance, including registration and legal support; as well as solutions, such as resettlement, although quotas remained insufficient to meet demand. The number of people seeking asylum continued to increase steadily in some countries: Saudi Arabia saw its asylum-seeking population rise by 10%, while the United Arab Emirates recorded a 12% increase from the year prior. In a positive development, the Government of the United Arab Emirates continued to grant renewable visas to Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis and other people from conflict-affected countries residing irregularly. UNHCR continued to engage with the private sector and humanitarian partners to provide asylum-seekers with legal support, medical services, and livelihood and educational opportunities.


Operational Environment

Armed conflicts and the subsequent large-scale displacements continue to characterise the Middle East sub-region. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) system-wide, Level 3 emergency declarations for the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) and Yemen remain in effect. Basic services to displaced people and host communities are expected to remain overstretched in 2019.
The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Iraq has gradually declined, with 1.9 million people currently displaced from the conflict, which began in 2014. The number of IDP returnees has increased to 4.1 million. Despite this trend, many IDPs remain in a protracted displacement situation or in secondary or tertiary displacement situations, as was the case for people who have made unsuccessful attempts to return to areas of origin and went back to camps. Poor living conditions in areas of return, ongoing insecurity, the lack of shelter, services and livelihood opportunities, and explosive hazards continued to result in displacement. There is a need for continued support to the displaced population and extensive reconstruction to allow for sustainable return. More than 270,000 Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR in neighbouring countries namely in Egypt, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.
In Israel, despite some limited forms of protection for Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers, the protection environment is anticipated to decline further, with the sustained implementation of policies and legislation intended to encourage departures.
The Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) remains one of the largest, most complex and dynamic humanitarian crisis in the world. While large-scale military operations have largely subsided in some areas, around 6.2 million Syrians remain internally displaced and 5.6 million people have sought refuge in the region as of September 2018; in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Humanitarian needs in Syria remain staggering in terms of scale, severity and complexity, with significant protection risks persisting in a number of areas. Some 12.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance with some 5.2 million people are in acute need.
In the asylum countries, the protection impact of the crisis on vulnerable men, women, girls and boys remains worrying and will have lasting consequences: early marriage, exposure to trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence as well as to exploitation. UNHCR continues to lead, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), coordinating the work of over 270 partners in the five main countries hosting Syrian refugees and working towards meeting the compelling needs of refugees and vulnerable host communities. For 2019, early disbursement, flexible and multi-year funding, including broadly earmarked contributions, would enable 3RP partners to respond to the most pressing needs in a strategic way.
Finding long-term, sustainable solutions to the plight of refugees will remain integral to UNHCR’s work in 2019. On returns, UNHCR recognizes that refugees have the fundamental human right to return in safety and dignity to their country of origin at a time of their own choosing. The free and informed decision of Syrians to return is fundamental. From January to August 2018, UNHCR had confirmed 23,000 self-organized returns, bringing the number of self-organized refugee returns to Syria since 2015 to 100,000. UNHCR is not able to monitor and confirm every spontaneous return to Syria as it is not facilitating these moves; thus the actual figure of returns is likely much higher. In addition, an estimated 750,000 IDPs have returned home to areas of relative stability in Syria. For those Syrian refugees choosing to return voluntarily, UNHCR will support them to return in dignity. In terms of larger-scale return, UNHCR, UN agencies and NGO partners have been engaged in preparedness and planning since early 2017. The guiding document for returns is the Comprehensive Protection and Solutions Strategy: Protection Thresholds and Parameters for Refugee Return to Syria, issued in February 2018.
In Yemen, 22.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, amounting to 75 per cent of the population. While two million Yemenis have fled their homes and are now internally displaced within the country, a further 280,000 refugees and asylum-seekers of other nationalities, mainly from the Horn of Africa, are also at risk in Yemen. 
As a matter of crucial importance, UNHCR will continue to provide assistance to both refugee and host communities in the Middle East, supporting improvements in social cohesion and peaceful co-existence.
With over 10 million IDPs in the region, UNHCR will also continue to respond to ongoing and protracted displacement inside Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Furthermore, UNHCR will maintain its response to the dramatic consequences of mixed movements in the region, while working to alleviate some of the underlying drivers of such flows.

Strategy and Response

In the context of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, UNHCR will work with Governments, national institutions and the private sector to expand asylum and protection space for people of concern, promote expanded multilateral engagement and carry out advocacy initiatives aimed at informing public discourse. In parallel, UNHCR will cooperate closely with civil-society organizations, as well as regional organizations including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the GCC Secretariat. 

2019 Budget and Expenditure in Middle East | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Iraq Budget
Israel Budget
Jordan Budget
Lebanon Budget
Saudi Arabia Regional Office Budget
Syrian Arab Republic Budget
Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office Budget
Yemen Budget
Regional activities for the Middle East and North Africa Budget
Total Budget

2019 Voluntary Contributions to Middle East | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Middle East overall
Private donors in Canada 0000325,406 325,406
Private donors in Egypt 00003,303 3,303
Private donors in Kuwait 00003,422 3,422
Private donors in Lebanon 000013,079 13,079
Private donors in Oman 00001,565 1,565
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 000012,609 12,609
Private donors in the Netherlands 000033,003 33,003
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 000030,622 30,622
Russian Federation 300,0000000 300,000
United States of America 000027,450,000 27,450,000
Middle East overall subtotal 300,00000027,873,011 28,173,011
Belgium 0001,137,6560 1,137,656
Canada 1,090,4260001,176,692 2,267,117
European Union 0003,364,1080 3,364,108
France 795,4550000 795,455
Germany 15,945,2990015,114,6420 31,059,941
Japan 2,822,0880010,213,6260 13,035,714
Kuwait 30,0000000 30,000
Luxembourg 0000523,013 523,013
Netherlands 171,200003,138,0620 3,309,262
Private donors in Brazil 0001,5870 1,587
Private donors in Canada 00002,607 2,607
Private donors in China 00003,931 3,931
Private donors in Egypt 00001,250 1,250
Private donors in Italy 0001,4300 1,430
Private donors in Kuwait 00006,393 6,393
Private donors in Lebanon 000026,344 26,344
Private donors in Liechtenstein 000200,2000 200,200
Private donors in Oman 00001,258 1,258
Private donors in Qatar 0002,000,0000 2,000,000
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 00006,492 6,492
Private donors in Thailand 0000113 113
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 00027,06020,640 47,700
Private donors in the United States of America 000225,1500 225,150
Republic of Korea 500,0000001,500,000 2,000,000
Sweden 00001,319,987 1,319,987
Switzerland 502,0080001,006,040 1,508,048
United States of America 35,800,0000030,650,00049,500,000 115,950,000
Iraq subtotal 57,656,4750066,073,52155,094,760 178,824,757
Australia 3,776,4350000 3,776,435
Canada 2,279,6350005,263,158 7,542,793
Czech Republic 1,085,5410000 1,085,541
European Union 5,592,8410000 5,592,841
France 1,704,5450000 1,704,545
Germany 62,733,0360000 62,733,036
Ireland 1,706,4850000 1,706,485
Isle of Man 130,7750000 130,775
Italy 2,014,1450000 2,014,145
Japan 3,571,4250000 3,571,425
Luxembourg 0000313,808 313,808
Malta 27,7780000 27,778
Netherlands 5,564,0000000 5,564,000
Norway 7,632,5980000 7,632,598
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation 12,9010000 12,901
Private donors in Canada 84,27600050,782 135,058
Private donors in China 2,1210000 2,121
Private donors in Egypt 12,01800012,377 24,395
Private donors in Germany 0000343,607 343,607
Private donors in Indonesia 3220000 322
Private donors in Italy 341,4680000 341,468
Private donors in Kuwait 605,28200020,797 626,079
Private donors in Lebanon 159,831000154,695 314,525
Private donors in Oman 17,7390009,573 27,312
Private donors in Qatar 000015,000 15,000
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 85,36000044,466 129,826
Private donors in Switzerland 0000136,026 136,026
Private donors in Thailand 1,2180000 1,218
Private donors in the Netherlands 84,18100013,451 97,632
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 339,959000286,375 626,334
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 512,7980000 512,798
Private donors in the United States of America 211,1960001,000,000 1,211,196
Qatar 5,000,0000000 5,000,000
Republic of Korea 228,0570000 228,057
Saudi Arabia 1,042,8060000 1,042,806
Switzerland 1,004,0160000 1,004,016
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 16,219,5120000 16,219,512
United States of America 81,000,0000000 81,000,000
Jordan subtotal 204,784,2980007,664,114 212,448,412
Australia 4,389,0030000 4,389,003
Belgium 2,275,3130000 2,275,313
Canada 4,559,2710007,518,797 12,078,068
Denmark 7,326,0130000 7,326,013
European Union 36,264,8200000 36,264,820
France 2,840,9090000 2,840,909
Germany 67,302,8500000 67,302,850
Isle of Man 130,7750000 130,775
Italy 4,630,4360000 4,630,436
Japan 3,571,4280000 3,571,428
Luxembourg 0000313,808 313,808
Monaco 238,9490000 238,949
Netherlands 7,092,3670000 7,092,367
Norway 7,334,2290000 7,334,229
Private donors in Canada 4,4630000 4,463
Private donors in China 640000 64
Private donors in Egypt 12,24100012,377 24,618
Private donors in Germany 000079,484 79,484
Private donors in Indonesia 1,7060000 1,706
Private donors in Italy 174,0180005,741 179,759
Private donors in Japan 23,0630000 23,063
Private donors in Kuwait 764,24800020,797 785,045
Private donors in Lebanon 169,284000131,331 300,616
Private donors in Oman 7,7800009,573 17,353
Private donors in Qatar 000015,000 15,000
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 174,36600047,337 221,703
Private donors in Spain 11,41600034,247 45,662
Private donors in Switzerland 000040,040 40,040
Private donors in Thailand 1,4100000 1,410
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 409,23100093,866 503,097
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 36,0710000 36,071
Private donors in the United States of America 0000331,691 331,691
Qatar 6,000,0000000 6,000,000
Republic of Korea 1,000,0000000 1,000,000
Saudi Arabia 6,373,4590000 6,373,459
Spain 1,693,8080000 1,693,808
Sweden 71,4500000 71,450
Switzerland 158,4640001,506,024 1,664,488
United States of America 134,750,0000001,750,000 136,500,000
Lebanon subtotal 299,792,90400011,910,112 311,703,017
Saudi Arabia Regional Office
Kuwait 000039,490 39,490
Saudi Arabia Regional Office subtotal 000039,490 39,490
Syrian Arab Republic
Canada 0003,799,3922,255,639 6,055,031
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 00311,8202,043,2680 2,355,088
European Union 0006,453,8290 6,453,829
Finland 00001,112,347 1,112,347
France 0000568,182 568,182
Germany 00029,499,9607,961,035 37,460,994
Iceland 0000216,589 216,589
Japan 00481,5007,818,5001,886,041 10,186,041
Norway 0009,141,7450 9,141,745
Private donors in Australia 0000218,684 218,684
Private donors in Canada 000098,504 98,504
Private donors in Italy 000054,705 54,705
Private donors in Kuwait 000480 48
Private donors in Lebanon 00062254 676
Private donors in Oman 000240 24
Private donors in Qatar 0000995,100 995,100
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 00020,2440 20,244
Private donors in the Netherlands 000022 22
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 000121,223653,725 774,948
Private donors in the United States of America 000299,5431,333,145 1,632,688
Russian Federation 000500,0000 500,000
Saudi Arabia 00005,000,000 5,000,000
Slovenia 000057,405 57,405
Spain 00078,0380 78,038
Sweden 0002,199,9780 2,199,978
United States of America 8,500,00030,566081,319,43412,150,000 102,000,000
Syrian Arab Republic subtotal 8,500,00030,566793,320143,295,84834,561,177 187,180,911
Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 00098,7080 98,708
Germany 2,274,5990000 2,274,599
United States of America 00013,700,0003,000,000 16,700,000
Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office subtotal 2,274,5990013,798,7083,000,000 19,073,306
Andorra 00022,3210 22,321
Belgium 426,697001,917,0530 2,343,750
Canada 00001,139,818 1,139,818
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 0006,183,2330 6,183,233
European Union 984,682005,710,3780 6,695,060
Finland 00002,224,694 2,224,694
France 0001,136,3640 1,136,364
Japan 2,774,63700796,7910 3,571,428
Kuwait 9,906,5420025,093,4580 35,000,000
Private donors in Canada 000064,801 64,801
Private donors in China 00003,468 3,468
Private donors in Egypt 000122,639507,770 630,409
Private donors in Indonesia 00002,284 2,284
Private donors in Kuwait 00016,47759,492 75,969
Private donors in Lebanon 0000124,050 124,050
Private donors in Oman 000016,151 16,151
Private donors in Qatar 00018,335,2600 18,335,260
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 0005,87226,425 32,297
Private donors in Thailand 0000833 833
Private donors in the Netherlands 0000201 201
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 0000107,238 107,238
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 000017,143 17,143
Private donors in the United States of America 35,0000000 35,000
Qatar 0001,335,0000 1,335,000
Republic of Korea 000500,0000 500,000
Saudi Arabia 3,000,000005,164,0010 8,164,001
Spain 0001,225,7590 1,225,759
Sweden 00001,649,984 1,649,984
Switzerland 502,00800502,0080 1,004,016
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 2,100,160002,402,3320 4,502,492
United States of America 1,326,7240038,84639,700,000 41,065,570
Yemen subtotal 21,056,4490070,507,79345,644,351 137,208,594
Total 594,364,72630,566793,320293,675,870185,787,015 1,074,651,497
Latest contributions
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