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.


  • 2014
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  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Middle East

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2020 {"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020],"budget":[1956.1382439289998,1911.753328647,2030.943688046,2243.50849637,2474.5215851069997,2459.42115575],"expenditure":[1059.45956475,1212.9320557,1089.34285307,1127.37769918,1110.7386051600001,1168.20152686]} {"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020],"p1":[1171.649811879,1074.174511887,1079.942153164,1120.2262255,1308.8004138499998,1353.35846399],"p2":[3.89799389,2.28713136,1.61649358,1.31344453,1.6335431,2.3197474500000004],"p3":[35.763788049999995,26.70785472,146,259.2,259.38285378,317.83304869],"p4":[744.8266501100001,808.5838306799999,803.385041302,862.76882634,904.7047743769999,785.90989562]} {"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020],"p1":[715.5914882000001,751.4589796,715.37560334,697.42488086,690.24972764,724.08369651],"p2":[2.16809421,1.48631248,0.96258046,0.86427745,1.10033708,1.59190927],"p3":[11.329619560000001,1.89021959,4.841297559999999,29.36963591,17.18097997,102.61031944],"p4":[330.37036278,458.09654402999996,368.16337171,399.71890496,402.20756047000003,339.91560164]}
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People of Concern - 2020

[["Refugees",2030651],["Asylum-seekers",98202],["IDPs",11928092],["Returned IDPs",358307],["Returned refugees",40068],["Stateless",370495],["Others of concern",49153]]
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In 2020, the Middle East region continued to experience some of the worst humanitarian and displacement crises in the world, particularly in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) and Yemen. These complex crises and their impacts were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which eroded communities’ resilience and compounded protection risks. In this context, UNHCR adapted its response to continue supporting refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and other people of concern, as well as the communities generously hosting them.

Iraq continued to face political, economic and security challenges, which were compounded by COVID-19. Over 1.2 million Iraqis remained internally displaced while the number of IDP returnees since 2014 stood at 4.8 million. Meanwhile, over 283,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Syria, were registered in Iraq, while an estimated 46,500 people were at risk of statelessness. In neighbouring countries, over 241,000 Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers were registered with UNHCR, while around 31,000 Iraqis without registration continued to live in camps in Al-Hassakeh Governorate in north-east Syria. In 2020, UNHCR increased its support to affected communities, as the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 exacerbated protection risks, pushing many families to resort to harmful coping mechanisms such as child labour, decreased food intake and indebtedness.

The Syria situation continued to drive the largest displacement crisis worldwide, with over 6.7 million Syrians internally displaced, and 5.5 million refugees hosted in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. COVID-19 exacerbated economic and social distress among refugees and host communities, as many lost their livelihoods and were pushed further into poverty. Inside Syria, over 13 million people needed humanitarian assistance by the end of 2020—two million more than at the start of 2020. A total of 38,563 Syrian refugees spontaneously returned to Syria in 2020, down by 60% compared to 2019, partly due to pandemic-related movement restrictions. Resettlement was also affected, with only 9,230 departures in 2020, a 60% decrease from the 23,076 departures in 2019. In 2020, UNHCR reached 288,780 individuals across the region with emergency shelter, 1.4 million with core relief items, and over 1.5 million with cash assistance. UNHCR also continued to co-lead the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan in response to the Syria crisis (3RP), coordinating the work of more than 270 partners.

In 2020, Yemen remained the worst humanitarian crisis globally for a fourth consecutive year, with over 21 million Yemenis—over 66% of the population—in need of humanitarian assistance. Active hostilities continued to drive displacement, with 16 new frontlines observed during the year, taking a devastating toll on the civilian population. Over 172,000 Yemenis were newly displaced, many multiple times, while only 10,788 IDP returns were recorded during the year. Little progress was observed in the peace process, with the Stockholm and Riyadh Agreements remaining largely unimplemented. The threat of famine persisted, with 13.5 million Yemenis experiencing high levels of food insecurity, while periodic heavy rains and flooding further drove displacement and outbreak of disease. The onset of COVID-19 placed an additional burden on the country’s already strained healthcare services and infrastructure, heightening protection risks and vulnerabilities for IDPs, refugees, and host communities. Yemen hosted some 167,000 refugees and 10,600 asylum-seekers, with active hostilities, ongoing threats of arrest and detention, and the pervasive risk of COVID-19 driving protection concerns and impeding access to services. Durable solutions remained limited owing to movement restrictions associated with the pandemic. Despite the challenging operational environment, UNHCR continued to provide protection services including registration, documentation, case management services for children and survivors of gender-based violence, legal assistance, and counselling for Somali refugees on Assisted Spontaneous Returns (ASR). In 2020, the Operation provided cash assistance to over one million IDPs, refugees, and asylum-seekers to meet their most immediate food, shelter, and health needs, while distributing core relief items and emergency shelter kits, improving local health clinics and services, and supporting educational activities through teacher trainings, classroom rehabilitations, and providing equipment and school supplies for students.
GCC Summary
In 2020, UNHCR continued resource mobilization efforts across operations in the Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), raising a total of $129 million for its operations globally. For its second year, UNHCR’s “Refugee Zakat Fund” assisted some 1.8 million refugee and IDP families worldwide primarily through cash assistance, recording a total of $130 million in additional contributions for the year. UNHCR maintained advocacy towards the development of national asylum frameworks, providing advice and technical assistance to the Governments of Kuwait and Qatar. UNHCR continued to expand and strengthen partnerships in the region, including among government and intergovernmental agencies, development actors, NGOs and the private sector to support activities in health, education, and livelihoods (among others) for asylum-seeking and IDP populations in MENA and beyond. 

The total number of people seeking asylum across the Gulf increased by nearly 10% from the previous year. The largest increase was recorded in Saudi Arabia (40%) followed by the UAE (22%); Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar did not report a significant increase, owing in part to border closures and associated movement restrictions due to the pandemic. While the operational space remained restrictive, UNHCR continued to provide protection assistance to people of concern, including registration and refugee status determination, counselling, medical referrals, and legal support, while working to implement durable solutions including resettlement, though quotas were limited. While governments remained generally tolerant to people with expired documentation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, people of concern reported difficulties in accessing certain services, including education and health care. UNHCR worked to improve access to basic services, while advocating for the inclusion of people of concern into national COVID-19 responses, including access to emergency health services and vaccination campaigns. 

Operational environment

The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) continues to drive the largest refugee crisis in the world. The crisis is now in its ninth year, with more than 6.2 million Syrians remaining internally displaced (as of August 2019) and at least 5.6 million more registered as refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and North Africa.
The scale, severity and complexity of people’s humanitarian needs in Syria remain extensive. There are significant protection risks due to continuous hostilities in localized areas, new and protracted displacements, increased self-organized returns and the erosion of communities’ resilience without enhanced international support. In neighbouring countries, which are generously hosting refugees, infrastructure, services and local economies remain under immense strain.
Between January 2016 and September 2019, more than 209,000 Syrian refugees spontaneously returned from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. As of September 2019, the number of refugee returns stands at around 75,500, surpassing the total number verified throughout 2018 (55,248). Furthermore, an estimated 341,000 IDPs returned to their areas of origin in the first nine months of the year, according to OCHA. Intention surveys indicate that more than three quarters of the Syrian refugee population hope to be able to return one day.
The number of IDPs in Iraq has gradually declined since 2014, with some 1.55 million people still internally displaced, according to the Displacement Tracking Matrix of IOM in September 2019. Many of the 4.3 million IDP returnees face difficulty in accessing basic services, while still contending with ongoing insecurity, a lack of shelter and livelihood opportunities, and explosive hazards. These challenges have led to instances of protracted and secondary displacement and re-admittance to camps where return was not possible or sustainable. Meanwhile, at least 257,000 Iraqi refugees are registered with UNHCR in neighbouring countries, and almost 32,000 more people live in camps in the Al-Hasakeh Governorate in Syria without any form of registration.
In 2020, UNHCR protection efforts within the Syria and Iraq situations will focus on advocating access to territory, protection from refoulement, registration, preservation of the protection space and available solutions, and protection from violence and exploitation. UNHCR will call on States to increase their resettlement quotas for vulnerable refugees and strengthen other legal pathways for admitting vulnerable refugees, such as through humanitarian visas, private sponsorship or complementary pathways. Despite insecurity and constrained access, UNHCR will continue to strengthen its presence and emergency response capacity to provide millions of refugees and IDPs in the region with life-saving, multi-sectoral assistance. At the same time, it will seek to strengthen strategic partnerships with governments, development actors, international financial institutions, UN agencies, civil society, academia and the private sector for a whole-of-society response. UNHCR will also continue to lead the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), with UNDP in response to the Syria crisis, coordinating the work of more than 270 partners in the five main countries hosting Syrian refugees.
In Yemen, the five-year conflict continues to exact a brutal toll on the civilian population. There are 24.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance—more than 80% of the country’s entire population. Increasing food insecurity and partial blockades that hamper aid delivery continue to point towards a threat of famine. In 2019, there were nearly 4 million IDPs in Yemen, with 1.2 million returnees across 22 governorates. More than 440,000 of the most vulnerable IDPs lived across more than 1,500 sites that were ill-equipped to meet the multi-dimensional needs and protection of people of concern. In addition, some 276,000 refugees and asylum-seekers were hosted across the country with some confronted by anti-migrant rhetoric that led to a rise in arrests, detentions and restricted movements, particularly in the northern governorates.
UNHCR will be faced with ongoing operational challenges in the region as the conflict continues to evolve. UNHCR will address growing humanitarian needs with multi-sectoral assistance to people of concern, including protection services, shelter, basic relief items, multi-purpose cash and health support. It will also advocate for a sustained protection space for refugees.  
The political and security situation in Yemen is expected to remain tense in 2020 amid complex regional dynamics, while rival factions in Yemen compete for effective control across multiple governorates – creating new frontlines and detrimentally impacting civilians. Protection needs remain high, but insecurity and restricted humanitarian access will continue to affect UNHCR’s ability to deliver assistance across Yemen. It will nevertheless work to effectively coordinate with the Government in the south and the authorities in the north to improve humanitarian access to people of concern.


In the context of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, UNHCR will enhance its collaboration with both national and regional bodies towards strengthening protection for people of concern. Multi-lateral engagement will be expanded alongside advocacy initiatives to inform public discourse in favour of refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons. Finally, UNHCR will foster partnerships in the GCC, including regional organizations, to cultivate growing interest from Gulf states in engaging in UNHCR programmes and appeals.

2020 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
Other operations in the Middle East Budget
Saudi Arabia Multi-Country Office Budget
Syrian Arab Republic Budget
Yemen Budget
Total Budget

2020 Voluntary Contributions to Middle East | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Middle East overall
Private donors in Canada 00030,817 30,817
Private donors in the United States of America 000900,000 900,000
Russian Federation 300,000000 300,000
United States of America 0006,300,000 6,300,000
Middle East overall subtotal 300,000007,230,817 7,530,817
Canada 0003,768,498 3,768,498
Czech Republic 211,298000 211,298
European Union 003,325,4620 3,325,462
France 0001,137,656 1,137,656
Germany 15,563,43408,958,5670 24,522,001
Japan 745,50004,268,3721,549,558 6,563,430
Kuwait 1,560,000000 1,560,000
Luxembourg 000523,013 523,013
Netherlands 176,36002,577,4750 2,753,835
Private donors in Brazil 008990 899
Private donors in China 0007,315 7,315
Private donors in Egypt 000123 123
Private donors in Italy 002540 254
Private donors in Kuwait 2,4650333,164945 336,574
Private donors in Lebanon 8,6460014,490 23,136
Private donors in Oman 000150 150
Private donors in Qatar 001,000,0000 1,000,000
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 23,30000399 23,699
Private donors in the Netherlands 00550 55
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 000159,658 159,658
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 143,076000 143,076
Qatar 164,019000 164,019
Republic of Korea 000900,000 900,000
Spain 0032,5730 32,573
Sweden 0002,038,902 2,038,902
Switzerland 0001,023,541 1,023,541
United States of America 41,900,0000079,100,000 121,000,000
Iraq subtotal 60,498,097020,496,82190,224,249 171,219,168
UNAIDS 53,500000 53,500
Israel subtotal 53,500000 53,500
Australia 1,970,938000 1,970,938
Belgium 68,735000 68,735
Canada 0006,024,137 6,024,137
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 4,689,022000 4,689,022
European Union 24,137,458000 24,137,458
France 2,275,313000 2,275,313
Germany 47,491,248000 47,491,248
Ireland 1,650,165000 1,650,165
Japan 1,090,909001,500,000 2,590,909
Luxembourg 209,205000 209,205
Netherlands 3,275,800000 3,275,800
Norway 65,568002,511,349 2,576,917
Poland 443,918000 443,918
Private donors in Australia 44,745000 44,745
Private donors in Canada 43,0730011,774 54,847
Private donors in Egypt 12,719001,736 14,454
Private donors in Germany 00059,138 59,138
Private donors in India 21000 21
Private donors in Italy 00024,535 24,535
Private donors in Kuwait 23,03800511,733 534,772
Private donors in Lebanon 167,8840065,589 233,473
Private donors in Oman 9,850003,398 13,247
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 42,423008,028 50,451
Private donors in Switzerland 000136,026 136,026
Private donors in Thailand 000215 215
Private donors in the Netherlands 65,735000 65,735
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 861,80800307,261 1,169,069
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 824,159005,821 829,980
Private donors in the United States of America 4,534001,133,125 1,137,659
Republic of Korea 1,000,000000 1,000,000
Saudi Arabia 2,400,000000 2,400,000
Switzerland 0001,023,541 1,023,541
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 11,585,366000 11,585,366
United States of America 105,423,600000 105,423,600
Jordan subtotal 209,877,2350013,327,408 223,204,643
Australia 5,758,334000 5,758,334
Canada 00013,150,210 13,150,210
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 7,099,562000 7,099,562
Croatia 11,696000 11,696
Czech Republic 392,3810025,505 417,886
Denmark 1,516,799000 1,516,799
European Union 32,875,205000 32,875,205
France 3,412,969000 3,412,969
Germany 66,049,117001,762,632 67,811,749
Italy 3,378,378000 3,378,378
Japan 727,272003,000,000 3,727,272
Luxembourg 313,808000 313,808
Monaco 293,237000 293,237
Netherlands 26,410,252000 26,410,252
Norway 0005,361,538 5,361,538
Private donors in Australia 000639,189 639,189
Private donors in Belgium 0001,730 1,730
Private donors in Brazil 0005,656 5,656
Private donors in Canada 00059,402 59,402
Private donors in China 000197,275 197,275
Private donors in Denmark 00044,904 44,904
Private donors in Egypt 12,701008,530 21,231
Private donors in France 00051,145 51,145
Private donors in Germany 000272,600 272,600
Private donors in Italy 58,12300104,055 162,178
Private donors in Japan 00071,422 71,422
Private donors in Kenya 0002,282 2,282
Private donors in Kuwait 30,35300128,514 158,867
Private donors in Lebanon 477,98400147,464 625,448
Private donors in Mexico 0007,238 7,238
Private donors in Oman 11,784006,198 17,982
Private donors in Philippines 0004,441 4,441
Private donors in Qatar 5,000,100001,500,000 6,500,100
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 87,7880023,323 111,111
Private donors in Singapore 00023,055 23,055
Private donors in Spain 000111,820 111,820
Private donors in Sweden 000239,926 239,926
Private donors in Switzerland 000131,270 131,270
Private donors in Thailand 00049,079 49,079
Private donors in the Republic of Korea 00020,544 20,544
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 273,65400594,372 868,027
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 126,29800215,450 341,748
Private donors in the United States of America 1,422,300001,068,281 2,490,582
Republic of Korea 500,000000 500,000
Saudi Arabia 3,000,000000 3,000,000
Spain 1,793,710000 1,793,710
Sweden 277,439000 277,439
Switzerland 0002,971,304 2,971,304
United States of America 142,466,4000011,150,000 153,616,400
Lebanon subtotal 303,777,6430043,150,355 346,927,998
Other operations in the Middle East
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 0013,547,8970 13,547,897
Germany 1,661,653025,563,8910 27,225,544
International Organization for Migration 00224,0000 224,000
Japan 003,345,1710 3,345,171
United States of America 00016,026,663 16,026,663
Other operations in the Middle East subtotal 1,661,653042,680,95916,026,663 60,369,275
Saudi Arabia Multi-Country Office
Kuwait 00039,490 39,490
Saudi Arabia Multi-Country Office subtotal 00039,490 39,490
Syrian Arab Republic
Austria 001,799,3490 1,799,349
Canada 0006,776,017 6,776,017
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 002,999,9980 2,999,998
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 0582,86500 582,865
Estonia 000162,866 162,866
European Union 02,931,5202,931,5200 5,863,040
France 00285,088568,828 853,916
Germany 008,749,04027,329,133 36,078,173
Holy See 0007,500 7,500
Iceland 000197,457 197,457
Japan 0909,091909,0919,829,226 11,647,407
Norway 002,263,2116,664,735 8,927,946
Poland 0295,94500 295,945
Private donors in Brazil 00018,262 18,262
Private donors in China 0007,315 7,315
Private donors in Denmark 00011,753 11,753
Private donors in Italy 000109,170 109,170
Private donors in Japan 0618,47000 618,470
Private donors in Kuwait 00012,516 12,516
Private donors in Lebanon 0043,1870 43,187
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 0029,5930 29,593
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 005,57330,000 35,573
Qatar 1,332,477000 1,332,477
Russian Federation 00500,0000 500,000
Spain 0255,157359,564550,055 1,164,776
United States of America 10,363,00021,625088,883,337 99,267,962
Syrian Arab Republic subtotal 11,695,4775,614,67320,875,213141,158,170 179,343,533
Belgium 142,2320639,0180 781,250
Canada 000363,636 363,636
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 006,034,6680 6,034,668
Cyprus 0027,5940 27,594
France 0001,137,656 1,137,656
Holy See 0007,500 7,500
Japan 0002,000,000 2,000,000
Private donors in Australia 000100,207 100,207
Private donors in Canada 000117,281 117,281
Private donors in Egypt 00042,274 42,274
Private donors in Kuwait 001,000,16434,502 1,034,666
Private donors in Lebanon 000282,553 282,553
Private donors in Oman 00012,480 12,480
Private donors in Qatar 0028,000,2900 28,000,290
Private donors in Saudi Arabia 0096,66739,338 136,005
Private donors in Singapore 0012,0000 12,000
Private donors in Thailand 00072 72
Private donors in the United Arab Emirates 000113,188 113,188
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 000317 317
Private donors in the United States of America 000713,597 713,597
Qatar 747,418000 747,418
Republic of Korea 0001,000,000 1,000,000
Saudi Arabia 12,000,0000020,000,000 32,000,000
Spain 00751,1390 751,139
Switzerland 0001,023,541 1,023,541
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1,302,71201,201,7110 2,504,424
United States of America 10,600,0000041,900,000 52,500,000
Yemen subtotal 24,792,362037,763,25268,888,144 131,443,758
Total 612,655,9675,614,673121,816,246380,045,296 1,120,132,182
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