Operational information on the West Africa subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format. This subregion covers the following countries:
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Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion West Africa
People of Concern - 2018[["Refugees",326287],["Asylum-seekers",11718],["IDPs",2491387],["Returned IDPs",200882],["Returned refugees",9520],["Stateless",692115],["Others of concern",27248]]
Response in 2018In 2018, the West Africa sub-region witnessed a surge in jihadist militant activities in Burkina Faso and Mali, while the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a number of attacks reported in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Escalating Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin and the destabilizing effect of Islamic State West Africa terrorist cell also contributed significantly to the population displacement in West Africa. In combination with these, the ever increasing level of criminality and competition over depleting natural resources further fuelled and sustained intercommunal tensions in parts of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Finally, the response of the G5 Sahel and other national and international security actors fighting armed groups has also has produced population displacement.
As a result, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria became the countries with the most significant number of population displacement in the sub-region. From Nigeria alone, the number of refugees registered in three main asylum countries namely Cameroon, Chad and Niger grew by 10% from the previous year. Simultaneously, more than 90% of voluntary refugee returns took place to Nigeria, with some 31,650 Nigerian refugees returning spontaneously during the course of the year. These returns in “less than ideal” situations were also triggered by the deteriorating situation in host countries. Considering the volatile security situation, the scale of voluntary return movements did not meet that of new displacement. The population of concern in West Africa grew from some 3.5 million at the beginning of the year, to some 3.8 million at year end.
In 2018, the IDP population grew from 1.9 million to nearly 2.5 million, representing more than a half of the total population of concern in the sub-region. Most IDPs have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict in the Lake Chad Basin, with some 94% as a result of the insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria alone. In addition to the internally displaced population, the sub-region hosted some 326,000 refugees and close to 700,000 stateless persons or persons at risk of statelessness.
Regional actors continued to support solutions, addressing the root causes of displacement in the sub-region. In a regional meeting on Solutions for Ivorian Refugees convened by UNHCR in Abidjan in November 2018, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Togo, with UNHCR’s support, developed and adopted a road-map for the implementation of the Comprehensive Solutions Strategy for Ivorian refugees. Similarly, states operating under an intergovernmental G5 force and Sahel alliance worked in collaboration to counter security and development challenges in border regions. States remained committed to their international protection obligations towards people of concern. Generally, people in need of international protection were allowed access to the territory in all countries in the region, except a few reported cases of refoulement and return in adverse circumstances.
UNHCR remained actively involved in providing protection, shelter and other assistance to IDPs in a number of operations including in Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. In the case of Burkina Faso, UNHCR joined other UN and Humanitarian agencies in scaling up the response to a growing IDP situation in the country.
The Banjul Plan of Action of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the Eradication of Statelessness 2017-2024 remained a legally binding instrument and a key reference document for the development of concrete actions to end statelessness in the region. In Côte d’Ivoire, UNHCR supported the Government in issuing approximately 400,000 birth certificates to children at risk of statelessness, while authorities in Niger illustrated their commitment for the protection of IDPs by domesticating the 2009 African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention).
The CRRF approach was adopted by the government of Chad and the humanitarian-development nexus was put in motion thanks to the intervention of the World Bank and the EU. The EU funded also a multi-year program supporting livelihood and the Out-of-Camp policy in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. In Cameroon, UNHCR partnered with the government and the World Bank to bring solutions to protracted refugee situations and improve the conditions of host populations.
West Africa continued to host an increasing number of refugees in protracted situations. In addition to Malian and Nigerian refugees, there are Mauritanian refugees in Mali and Senegal, Togolese refugees in Ghana, Ghanaians refugees in Togo and Ivorian refugees mostly in Liberia, Ghana, Guinea and Togo. A road map for the return of Ivoirian refugees was adopted at the end of 2018 and is likely to lead to the closure of this protracted displacement. For the other protracted situations, UNHCR continue to seek durable solutions.
UNHCR’s operations in the sub-region were hindered mainly by security and under-funding. While grappling with the challenge of humanitarian access resulting from insecurity, UNHCR’s operations had to prioritise life-saving activities over investments in sectors with a potential to unlock solutions for refugees in protracted situations.
The operational environment in the West Africa subregion has been marked for several years by a latent fragility, further impacted by multi-layered vulnerabilities in the areas of governance, development and humanitarian needs. The current situation is underpinned by a complex security environment which makes the region the epicentre of various types of trafficking, crime, violent extremism and irregular migration flows. These issues give a regional and global resonance to the overarching challenges faced by West Africa, and are the potential root causes of future conflicts and forced displacement in 2018 and 2019.
As of June 2017, people of concern in West Africa include some 290,000 refugees, of whom 179,000 are in situations of protracted displacement, and some 7,300 asylum-seekers. Over 2.5 million people are internally displaced in Niger, Nigeria and Mali. In addition, an estimated one million people are stateless in the region and several million more are at risk of statelessness.
Ongoing large-scale humanitarian crises in the Lake Chad Basin region and Mali have caused significant levels of internal displacement and refugee outflows. The situation in North-East Nigeria has forced over 2.4 million people to flee their homes, including some 200,000 refugees to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and the complex emergency shows no sign of subsiding. Mali saw a significant deterioration of the security situation since the end 2016 leading to new displacement and increased insecurity in border areas of Burkina Faso and Niger. The situation is not expected to improve in 2018.
In addition, the region hosts an estimated 179,000 protracted refugees, including a number of smaller refugee populations, such as Mauritanians in Senegal and Mali, Senegalese in Gambia and Guinea Bissau, Togolese in Ghana, Ghanaians in Togo, Ivoirians in Ghana, Guinea and Togo, exempted, from application of the cessation clause, Liberians and Sierra Leoneans and a number of urban refugees of various nationalities. Durable solutions strategies have been developed for these populations. While all options are pursued in a comprehensive manner, local integration is the preferred solution for the majority of protracted refugees in the region, with the exception of Ivoirians who are opting for voluntary repatriation as the most viable option.
National institutional protection frameworks for refugees and IDPs present significant gaps. Despite the fact that all countries in the region, except for Cabo Verde, have legislation on asylum, key challenges include gaps in legislative frameworks, generally low quality and standards of asylum procedures, and limited financial resources and capacity. Regarding IDPs, eleven countries in the West Africa region have ratified the Kampala Convention (OAU) so far, and all have yet to ensure its domestication, though some countries in the region are at different stages of developing IDP laws or policies.
The region is also the location of significant and complex mixed movements, including both intra-regional movements and flows toward North Africa and Europe. There has been an increase in movements by West Africans toward Libya in the past few years. Many face protection risks on the way. These movements have become a central political, security and humanitarian concern in many countries in the region, with an increasing interrelation of criminality, extremism, smuggling and trafficking networks.
An estimated one million people are stateless in the region and several million more at risk of statelessness. Key causes are gaps in nationality laws, low civil registration rates, massive intra-regional migration, and serious gaps in the management of civil registries. In 2018-2019, UNHCR will continue to prioritize its partnership with ECOWAS and the implementation of the Abidjan Declaration, the Regional Plan of Action and training and sensitization activities to get the general public and stakeholders more understanding of the issue and the urgency to act.
Implementation and Response
In 2018-2019, in line with UNHCR’s corporate and regional strategic directions for the Africa region, the strategic response in West Africa will target the following key priority areas: 1. Improve data collection and information management in order to efficiently target durable solutions; 2. Tackle sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), protection from sexual exploitation and abuse and enhance access to education; 3. Sustain an emergency response and preparedness capacity, and predictable engagement in IDP situations; 4. Bring about solutions and phase out UNHCR’ support to certain refugee populations 5. Nurture new partnerships and ensure multi-year planning in line with the New Ways of Working 6. Increase cash-based interventions to support better programming.
For detailed information on the 2018 response in Benin, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, please see the Senegal Regional Office page.
2018 Budget and Expenditure in West Africa | USD
|Senegal Regional Office||Budget|
2018 Voluntary Contributions to West Africa | USD
|Earmarking / Donor||Pillar 1
|West Africa overall|
|Private donors in the United States of America||28,000||0||0||0||0||28,000|
|West Africa overall subtotal||28,000||0||0||0||0||28,000|
|Private donors in the United States of America||138,000||0||0||0||0||138,000|
|United States of America||42,800||0||0||0||0||42,800|
|Burkina Faso subtotal||3,717,296||0||0||0||50,000||3,767,296|
|Côte d'Ivoire subtotal||0||1,292,177||620,599||0||20,000||1,932,776|
|Private donors in Ghana||621||0||0||0||0||621|
|Private donors in Italy||191||0||0||0||0||191|
|Private donors in Japan||167,063||0||0||0||0||167,063|
|Republic of Korea||0||0||0||0||300,000||300,000|
|UN Peacebuilding Fund||0||0||0||0||550,000||550,000|
|United States of America||0||0||0||21,400||0||21,400|
|Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)||0||0||0||809,241||0||809,241|
|Private donors in Japan||35,595||0||0||0||0||35,595|
|Private donors in the United States of America||195,578||0||0||0||0||195,578|
|UN Peacebuilding Fund||142,219||0||0||0||0||142,219|
|United States of America||0||0||0||13,910||12,500,000||12,513,910|
|Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan||0||0||155,178||30,923||2,305,293||2,491,394|
|Private donors in Norway||76,100||0||0||0||0||76,100|
|Republic of Korea||0||0||0||0||500,000||500,000|
|UN Trust Fund for Human Security||0||0||0||69,320||0||69,320|
|United States of America||0||0||0||0||4,100,000||4,100,000|
|Senegal Regional Office|
|Private donors in Italy||251||0||0||0||0||251|
|Private donors in Senegal||1,777||0||0||0||0||1,777|
|Senegal Regional Office subtotal||521,806||0||0||0||108,070||629,876|