Senegal Multi-Country Office
Operation: Senegal Multi-Country Office
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|2019 year-end results|
|5,500||refugees received documentation in Guinea Bissau with the support of UNHCR (including some 4,300 Guinean identification cards; 4,100 birth certificates; and 3,400 certificates of nationality)|
|1,930||cases were submitted for resettlement|
|1,160||Ivorians repatriated from Guinea, with the assistance of UNHCR|
|900||refugee children were enrolled in primary school in Benin, Guinea and Senegal|
|2020 planning figures|
|14,350||refugees and 1,710 asylum-seekers in Senegal will be supported with durable solutions, most notably voluntary repatriation|
|7,000||refugees will be naturalized in Guinea Bissau|
|250||refugee children born in Gambia will be registered|
|200||refugees in Gambia will be assisted with acquisition of long-term residence permits|
|90%||of refugees in Guinea will be engaged in agricultural activities and Income Generating Activities that will enable them to achieve self-sufficiency|
People of Concern
Senegal Multi-Country Office
Operational contextSituations of insecurity and violence within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) area continued to affect countries across the region, especially those with weaker economies, which in 2019 raised concerns relating to their capacity to respond in case of large-scale refugee arrivals. With some countries preparing for elections in 2019, political uncertainties persisted. In Togo, constitutional changes allowing the President to seek re-election and potentially stay in office until 2030 resulted in large protests throughout the country. Likewise, in Guinea Conakry, during the last months of 2019, 100 to 130 victims were recorded from post-election violence, in reaction to a bid by the President to amend the constitution to permit him to run for a third term.
The fragile political environment hindered access to asylum, with security and border controls tightened across the region. Asylum-seekers had limited access to information about refugee status determination (RSD) procedures, and legal counselling and psychosocial assistance was only available in a few countries, such as Benin and the Gambia. The reception capacity of national institutions remained limited and even countries with very few arrivals did not have systems in place to meet minimum standards.
During 2019, UNHCR’s regional approach focused on comprehensive durable solutions strategies across the seven countries, with strategies developed for the main caseloads. While all durable solutions were pursued, local integration remained the preferred solution for the vast majority of the protracted caseloads. National protection frameworks for refugees were generally favourable in operations under the responsibility of the multi-country office, however individual determination procedures remained in need of strengthening. Enhancing refugee self-reliance, an asylum framework was adopted in Senegal; while a concept note defining the steps of the reform of the asylum framework in Niger was drafted by UNHCR jointly with the authorities and technical organs – this would ensure that refugees have a access to legal employment, national education systems, health services, legal assistance and other related services. Ghana will facilitate local integration of 13,000 refugees and asylum-seekers (in the entire caseload in the country). Negotiations were underway for a memorandum of understanding between the Government of Ghana and UNHCR to operationalize the issuance of the “Ghana Card” to refugees and asylum-seekers.
Population trendsIn the West Africa region, more than 39,200 individuals were granted refugee status (99% through prima facie recognition) in 2019, and less than 200 applications were rejected.
By the end of 2019, assistance was provided to a total of 44,400 people of concern including some 39,200 refugees and 5,100 asylum-seekers (Benin: 1,600; the Gambia: 4,500; Guinea: 7,000; Guinea Bissau: 1,900; Senegal: 16,300; Sierra Leone: 400 and Togo: 12,700).
More than 4,000 people of concern across the region were assisted to return to their countries of origin.
In the majority of countries in the region, refugees and asylum-seekers lived together with host communities in urban and rural areas, with the exception of Guinea and Togo where they were settled in camps. During the period under review, 1,930 cases (4,130 people) were submitted for resettlement or complementary pathways
- Progress was made in refugee status determination in countries such as the Gambia, Ghana, and Togo, with a total of 2,800 Ivoirians and 150 asylum-seekers of other nationalities (mostly from the Central African Republic (CAR)) being granted refugee status.
- UNHCR supported access to education in Senegal, including more than 200 children in primary school, nearly 100 in secondary school, 60 in vocational training, 7 in higher education institutions, and 19 who became DAFI scholars.
- UNHCR supported the efforts of the Government to issue over 1,500 identification cards to refugees and 80 birth certificates to refugee children born in the Gambia.
- Pledges with strong links to Global Compact on Refugees objectives (e.g. support for local integration, refugee status determination, and enhancing refugee self-reliance) were made by governments in the region.
Unmet needsThe dependence on external funding for RSD systems in many countries in the region (the financing of RSD systems was generally not included in national budgets) led to limited capacity of national institutions responsible for individual RSD procedures.
Other challenges included limited expertise of first and second instance bodies, as well as frequent turnover of government staff, hindering capacity-building efforts and creating important gaps at all stages of the asylum process. Procedural bottlenecks, weaknesses in institutional set-up and case-management that was not in accordance with standard operating procedures, as well as lengthy and overloaded procedures, led to backlogs. UNHCR encouraged the establishment of independent committees, especially in Senegal where there was no appeal committee, as well as in Togo, Sierra Leone and the Gambia where second instance committees were not yet functional.
With the operation funded at 49% by the end of 2019, budgetary constraints limited the capacity to undertake certain planned activities, for example:
- In the Gambia, only three schools out of ten that requested support were assisted. Lack of funding also limited the participation of large numbers of refugees, school authorities and hosts in sensitization activities.
- In Guinea, the lack of funding impacted the amount of income-generating activities implemented, one of the primary protection mechanisms for vulnerable refugees.
- In Guinea Bissau, some 1,800 naturalized refugees were not issued identification cards due to limited funding to support the documentation process.
- In Senegal, limited support to the national commission of eligibility resulted in an increase in the backlog of asylum cases.
Working environmentUNHCR’s Regional Representation for West Africa (RRWA) will continue to work with the host governments in the region to coordinate its response programmes and to further durable solutions. RRWA will also continue to directly interface with international bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, as well as regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in order to respond to emergencies as well as the challenges of prolonged forced displacement and statelessness. In 2018, UNHCR collaborated with 85 partners, and will continue fruitful partnerships in 2019 to ensure cost effectiveness in implementing activities in various sectors, such as registration, refugee status determination, child and community-based protection, peaceful co-existence, identifying and responding to SGBV, border monitoring, shelter, education, and addressing statelessness.
West Africa is the location of important and complex mixed movements, both significant intra-regional movements and key transit routes of flows toward North Africa and Europe. Among people ready to embark on irregular movements and risk these dangerous journeys, there are people seeking international protection. In 2019, efforts will continue to strengthen a coordinated and comprehensive response to ensure respect for the right to seek and enjoy international protection in the context of mixed movements. UNHCR will promote the decentralisation of asylum services, which tend to only be available in capital cities, and support the presence and availability of national asylum authorities in strategic locations in such as border areas and key transit points. In this context, UNHCR will support advocacy with Governments and other key stakeholders, such as the Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation as well as promote access to protection and solutions for refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR will also carry out mass information campaigns to people of concern and support capacity-building activities of the relevant stakeholders
- A series of national quantitative and qualitative studies will be conducted, to enhance understanding of the causes of statelessness in ECOWAS states, to establish a baseline for the purposes of prioritisation, and to assess the impact/efficacy of the planned interventions.
- In Sierra Leone, UNHCR will continue to pursue durable solutions for the remaining refugees in the country including Liberians who have already opted for local integration and are awaiting issuance of Liberian passports
- In Guinea, UNHCR will advocate with the government for accession to the Kampala Convention and drafting of a law or policy on internal displacement.
- In Guinea, UNHCR will work with the government, in addition to continuing the voluntary repatriation of mainly Ivorian refugees, for the development of local integration strategy in order to achieve legal, social and economic integration of refugees.
- In Guinea, documentation, birth registration and new cases, profiling and refugee status determination as well as SGBV case management will be integrated into the national system
- In Senegal, the five objectives of the MYMP strategy for Senegal (2018-2020) will be prioritised in 2019: Improving the performance of the RSD system in Senegal as per international standards; building the independence and self-reliance of POCs, connecting them with the national services and ensuring their effective and meaning participation in Senegalese society; ensuring sustainable durable solutions for PoCs; integration and consideration of vulnerable POCs and coordination, awareness raising and advocacy between all actors.
- UNHCR will strengthen collaboration and partnerships with all stakeholders in the context of asylum and mixed migration in Senegal.
- In Senegal, particular attention will be paid to the livelihood opportunities thus enhancing the capacities of refugees to provide for basic needs.
- In Gambia, UNHCR will continue its strong advocacy with the authorities for administrative and legal integration of Senegalese refugees and for naturalization or for multiyear residence permit status for all refugees living in Gambia. UNHCR will also focus on strengthening existing programmes to facilitate the inclusion of refugees into national programmes and signing of MOUs with 10 identified Government and development/private agencies.
- In Guinea Bissau, UNHCR will pursue the naturalization of 4,269 people by the end of 2019, ensuring the provision of assistance to the naturalized refugees and host communities
- In Togo, voluntary repatriation for Ivorian and income generation activities will be pursued in 2019.