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:
By clicking on the icons on the map, additional information is displayed.
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.
Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Middle East
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]]
Response in 2019The 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 2019For 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 EnvironmentArmed 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 ResponseIn 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
|Saudi Arabia Regional Office||Budget|
|Syrian Arab Republic||Budget|
|Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office||Budget|
|Regional activities for the Middle East and North Africa||Budget|
2019 Voluntary Contributions to Middle East | USD
|Earmarking / Donor||Pillar 1
|Middle East overall|
|Private donors in Canada||0||0||0||0||325,406||325,406|
|Private donors in Egypt||0||0||0||0||3,303||3,303|
|Private donors in Kuwait||0||0||0||0||3,422||3,422|
|Private donors in Lebanon||0||0||0||0||13,079||13,079|
|Private donors in Oman||0||0||0||0||1,565||1,565|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||0||0||0||0||12,609||12,609|
|Private donors in the Netherlands||0||0||0||0||33,003||33,003|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||0||0||0||0||30,622||30,622|
|United States of America||0||0||0||0||27,450,000||27,450,000|
|Middle East overall subtotal||300,000||0||0||0||27,873,011||28,173,011|
|Private donors in Brazil||0||0||0||1,587||0||1,587|
|Private donors in Canada||0||0||0||0||2,607||2,607|
|Private donors in China||0||0||0||0||3,931||3,931|
|Private donors in Egypt||0||0||0||0||1,250||1,250|
|Private donors in Italy||0||0||0||1,430||0||1,430|
|Private donors in Kuwait||0||0||0||0||6,393||6,393|
|Private donors in Lebanon||0||0||0||0||26,344||26,344|
|Private donors in Liechtenstein||0||0||0||200,200||0||200,200|
|Private donors in Oman||0||0||0||0||1,258||1,258|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||0||2,000,000||0||2,000,000|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||0||0||0||0||6,492||6,492|
|Private donors in Thailand||0||0||0||0||113||113|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||0||0||0||27,060||20,640||47,700|
|Private donors in the United States of America||0||0||0||225,150||0||225,150|
|Republic of Korea||500,000||0||0||0||1,500,000||2,000,000|
|United States of America||35,800,000||0||0||30,650,000||49,500,000||115,950,000|
|Isle of Man||130,775||0||0||0||0||130,775|
|Organisation of Islamic Cooperation||12,901||0||0||0||0||12,901|
|Private donors in Canada||84,276||0||0||0||50,782||135,058|
|Private donors in China||2,121||0||0||0||0||2,121|
|Private donors in Egypt||12,018||0||0||0||12,377||24,395|
|Private donors in Germany||0||0||0||0||343,607||343,607|
|Private donors in Indonesia||322||0||0||0||0||322|
|Private donors in Italy||341,468||0||0||0||0||341,468|
|Private donors in Kuwait||605,282||0||0||0||20,797||626,079|
|Private donors in Lebanon||159,831||0||0||0||154,695||314,525|
|Private donors in Oman||17,739||0||0||0||9,573||27,312|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||0||0||15,000||15,000|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||85,360||0||0||0||44,466||129,826|
|Private donors in Switzerland||0||0||0||0||136,026||136,026|
|Private donors in Thailand||1,218||0||0||0||0||1,218|
|Private donors in the Netherlands||84,181||0||0||0||13,451||97,632|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||339,959||0||0||0||286,375||626,334|
|Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||512,798||0||0||0||0||512,798|
|Private donors in the United States of America||211,196||0||0||0||1,000,000||1,211,196|
|Republic of Korea||228,057||0||0||0||0||228,057|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||16,219,512||0||0||0||0||16,219,512|
|United States of America||81,000,000||0||0||0||0||81,000,000|
|Isle of Man||130,775||0||0||0||0||130,775|
|Private donors in Canada||4,463||0||0||0||0||4,463|
|Private donors in China||64||0||0||0||0||64|
|Private donors in Egypt||12,241||0||0||0||12,377||24,618|
|Private donors in Germany||0||0||0||0||79,484||79,484|
|Private donors in Indonesia||1,706||0||0||0||0||1,706|
|Private donors in Italy||174,018||0||0||0||5,741||179,759|
|Private donors in Japan||23,063||0||0||0||0||23,063|
|Private donors in Kuwait||764,248||0||0||0||20,797||785,045|
|Private donors in Lebanon||169,284||0||0||0||131,331||300,616|
|Private donors in Oman||7,780||0||0||0||9,573||17,353|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||0||0||15,000||15,000|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||174,366||0||0||0||47,337||221,703|
|Private donors in Spain||11,416||0||0||0||34,247||45,662|
|Private donors in Switzerland||0||0||0||0||40,040||40,040|
|Private donors in Thailand||1,410||0||0||0||0||1,410|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||409,231||0||0||0||93,866||503,097|
|Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||36,071||0||0||0||0||36,071|
|Private donors in the United States of America||0||0||0||0||331,691||331,691|
|Republic of Korea||1,000,000||0||0||0||0||1,000,000|
|United States of America||134,750,000||0||0||0||1,750,000||136,500,000|
|Saudi Arabia Regional Office|
|Saudi Arabia Regional Office subtotal||0||0||0||0||39,490||39,490|
|Syrian Arab Republic|
|Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan||0||0||311,820||2,043,268||0||2,355,088|
|Private donors in Australia||0||0||0||0||218,684||218,684|
|Private donors in Canada||0||0||0||0||98,504||98,504|
|Private donors in Italy||0||0||0||0||54,705||54,705|
|Private donors in Kuwait||0||0||0||48||0||48|
|Private donors in Lebanon||0||0||0||622||54||676|
|Private donors in Oman||0||0||0||24||0||24|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||0||0||995,100||995,100|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||0||0||0||20,244||0||20,244|
|Private donors in the Netherlands||0||0||0||0||22||22|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||0||0||0||121,223||653,725||774,948|
|Private donors in the United States of America||0||0||0||299,543||1,333,145||1,632,688|
|United States of America||8,500,000||30,566||0||81,319,434||12,150,000||102,000,000|
|Syrian Arab Republic subtotal||8,500,000||30,566||793,320||143,295,848||34,561,177||187,180,911|
|Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office|
|Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan||0||0||0||98,708||0||98,708|
|United States of America||0||0||0||13,700,000||3,000,000||16,700,000|
|Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office subtotal||2,274,599||0||0||13,798,708||3,000,000||19,073,306|
|Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan||0||0||0||6,183,233||0||6,183,233|
|Private donors in Canada||0||0||0||0||64,801||64,801|
|Private donors in China||0||0||0||0||3,468||3,468|
|Private donors in Egypt||0||0||0||122,639||507,770||630,409|
|Private donors in Indonesia||0||0||0||0||2,284||2,284|
|Private donors in Kuwait||0||0||0||16,477||59,492||75,969|
|Private donors in Lebanon||0||0||0||0||124,050||124,050|
|Private donors in Oman||0||0||0||0||16,151||16,151|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||0||18,335,260||0||18,335,260|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||0||0||0||5,872||26,425||32,297|
|Private donors in Thailand||0||0||0||0||833||833|
|Private donors in the Netherlands||0||0||0||0||201||201|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||0||0||0||0||107,238||107,238|
|Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||0||0||0||0||17,143||17,143|
|Private donors in the United States of America||35,000||0||0||0||0||35,000|
|Republic of Korea||0||0||0||500,000||0||500,000|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||2,100,160||0||0||2,402,332||0||4,502,492|
|United States of America||1,326,724||0||0||38,846||39,700,000||41,065,570|