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.
Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Middle East
People of Concern - 2018[["Refugees",2235702],["Refugee-like situation",16917],["Asylum-seekers",156099],["IDPs",10131470],["Returned IDPs",1078558],["Returned refugees",211013],["Stateless",370757],["Others of concern",12979]]
Response in 2018The Middle East sub-region continued to be characterized by multiple armed conflicts. In 2018, 10.5 million people were internally displaced from conflicts in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) and Yemen; three of the largest humanitarian and displacement crises in the world. In addition, 7.2 million refugees and asylum-seekers were displaced in countries across the region and further abroad.
In Iraq, rays of hope for stabilization became more visible in 2018 as the Government continued to consolidate control over areas formerly held by terrorist groups. Despite such positive developments, the protection environment for civilians remained precarious due to continuing insecurity and extensive destruction caused by years of conflict. While efforts are underway for rehabilitation and reconstruction for Iraq, it has not been a smooth or fast-moving process. Despite 4.1 million IDPs returning home by the end of the year, some 1.8 million people remained internally displaced. Continued secondary displacement of returnees was prevalent given the high level of destruction and lack of access to services in many parts of the country. Protection challenges also remained, which could result in further displacement, inter‑communal violence and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Meanwhile, there were some 277,830 Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers in neighbouring countries (Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt) at year end.
By the end of the year, some 6.2 million Syrians remained internally displaced and over 5.6 million refugees hosted in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and across North Africa. The situation inside Syria remained complex throughout 2018. Relative stability emerged in a number of areas, such as southern Syria, following the end of large-scale military operations. Against this backdrop, some 1.4 million internally displaced people to return to their area of origin in 2018 and some 210,950 refugees returned to Syria. Conversely, the security situation in other areas remained challenging, with large-scale internal displacement being reported throughout 2018, including in Idlib. Across the country, access to basic services and socio-economic opportunities remained challenging, particularly in areas recovering from the impact of fighting. According to intention survey results, the majority want to return to Syria. However, concerns of safety and security, limited access to services, livelihoods opportunities and access to shelter among the main factors impacting decision-making.
Despite security and operational challenges, UNHCR and partners reached approximately 2.3 million people inside Syria with protection services, over 2 million people with core relief items and close to 457,000 people with emergency, long-term or permanent shelter support, including through cross-border interventions from Jordan and Turkey.
UNHCR’s refugee response in Middle East was designed in accordance with the Grand Bargain commitments and the principle of burden- and responsibility-sharing, which is at the core of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). UNHCR and UNDP continued to lead the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan in response to the Syria crisis (3RP), which is built around government-led national plans, cost-effective and innovative programming, and carried through a coalition of over 270 partners. In 2018, 3RP partners, in support of national efforts, reached over three million Syrian refugees and members of the host community with health and nutrition services, enrolled more than 1.2 million children in education, provided 2.6 million people with basic needs assistance, assisted more than 2.7 million people with food, and provided over 600,000 children with child protection and psycho-social support programmes.
In Yemen, some 22.2 million people – over three quarters of the country’s population – remained in need of humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million people in acute need of urgent assistance. Fighting continued during 2018, escalating dramatically in late-May when frontlines in Al-Hudaydah began to advance towards the city’s edge. The blockade on importation of critical goods placed further strain on humanitarian response capacity. With clashes recorded across multiple governorates in 2018, a long-awaited ceasefire agreement concluded in December has yet to have the desired impact. While conflict continued to force people to flee their homes in 2018, an unexpected number of people attempted hazardous returns to their areas of origin.
Operations in Middle East in 2018In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), UNHCR continued its advocacy and resource mobilization activities throughout 2018. The operating environment was challenged by currency fluctuations and regional political instability, due to the on-going conflict in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates saw significant increases in the number of asylum-seekers in 2018, rising from approximately 100 to over 2,000 in Saudi Arabia and from 2,500 to 6,500 in the United Arab Emirates, with Syria and Iraq the largest countries of origin, respectively.
In 2018, Qatar enacted a political asylum law following its accession to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The League of Arab States (LAS)’s development and adoption of the “Arab declaration on belonging and legal identity” was achieved following years of advocacy by UNHCR and partners to reduce the percentage of undocumented children across the region, and represents a significant commitment for the region towards addressing statelessness. The Declaration calls for all children to be able to enjoy their right to a legal identity, and reaffirmed the shared commitment of LAS Member States to promote gender equality in their nationality laws.
The Middle East subregion continues to be characterized by armed conflict and the large-scale displacement followed by it. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) system-wide, Level 3 emergency declarations for Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) and Yemen remain in effect, with all three emergencies deteriorating further in 2017 – a trend that will likely continue into 2018.
In Iraq, the security and protection environment remains fluid, with serious protection risks for displaced Iraqis, IDP returnees and refugees. Despite the success in retaking Ninewa Governorate in August 2017, over 833,000 people remain displaced due to the Mosul crisis and are in need of protection and assistance. The country continues to face multiple humanitarian crises with the ongoing military operation in west Anbar Governorate and continued violence in disputed territories. Although there is an increased interest in returns, the protection environment for civilians remains precarious due to continuing security risks, extensive destruction of properties and critical infrastructure, fear of pro-government armed groups and risk of attacks for those perceived to have family affiliations with extremists. UNHCR will continue enhancing protection space in camps and urban settings, providing assistance to the vulnerable, and seeking solutions for all groups of concern.
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.
Syria is the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis in the world today. The conflict is in its seventh year, with 6.15 million people internally displaced. Over 1.3 million people were newly displaced during the first half of 2017. A total of 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access remains critical. As of September 2017, more than 5.1 million Syrian refugees were registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Despite the fluid security situation in Syria, some areas of relative stability are emerging. An estimated 600,000 IDPs and more than 30,000 refugees spontaneously returned home in the first half of 2017. However, conditions for return in safety and dignity are not yet in place and UNHCR does not promote, nor facilitate, the return of refugees to Syria at this time. UNHCR is enhancing protection and assistance in Syria for those IDPs and refugees who may voluntarily and spontaneously return, as well as continuing its programmes for IDPs and those newly displaced.
In countries of asylum, the UNHCR-led Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) continues to be the regional coordination and planning tool to address the protection and resilience needs of Syrian refugees, in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. In 2018, the 3RP will continue to focus on pursuing innovation and to encourage efficiency, while promoting synergies between resilience and humanitarian programming.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen worsened during the course of 2017, compounded by the threat of famine and a major outbreak of cholera. The pace of airstrikes and armed clashes escalated significantly, resulting in new displacement, scores of civilian casualties and an acute protection crisis.
The continuous and deepening decline of Yemen’s economic situation, the disruption of basic services and destruction of infrastructure, has impacted civilians the most, with 20.7 million people now in need of humanitarian or protection assistance – an increase of almost 2 million since the end of 2016. Humanitarian access continued to be challenged by ongoing insecurity, delays and interferences in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. In 2018, the situation in Yemen is expected to remain characterized as a protracted, complex emergency with unprecedented humanitarian needs.
Almost two million civilians remain internally displaced, 84 per cent of whom have been displaced for over a year. Some 950,000 IDPs returned to their locations of origin, sometimes under precarious conditions. UNHCR and partners observed increased protection needs, with more people than ever resorting to negative coping mechanisms, particularly amidst spreading food insecurity and ongoing conflict.
Yemen is also host to more than 280,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Somalia, and who are suffering from the escalation of the conflict, inadequate basic services and a shrinking economy that has weakened the protection environment. Despite war and insecurity that make conditions in Yemen not conducive to asylum, there were an estimated 60,000 new arrivals to Yemen during 2017. UNHCR is therefore engaged in widening the scope of a regional information campaign, to spread awareness about the risks of crossing from the Horn of Africa to and through war-stricken Yemen.
Within this context, UNHCR started implementing a programme to assist Somali refugees in Yemen voluntarily returning to Somalia, and in 2018 will continue to support refugees through this programme.
In the framework of the IDP response, UNHCR being a lead of Protection and Shelter/NFI/CCCM Clusters, will continue assisting all people of concern including IDPs, IDP returnees and members of the host community. UNHCR will continue leading the protection and multi-sector response for refugees and asylum-seekers in urban settings and in Kharaz refugee camp, with the aim of maintaining the current asylum space.
Response and ImplementationOperations in Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen are presented in separate country chapters. For other countries where UNHCR operates in the subregion, please see below.
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, the Office will cooperate closely with civil-society organizations, through the Civil Society Network for Displacement, as well as regional organizations including the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to explore areas of collaboration aimed at addressing displacement challenges in the region.
2018 Budget and Expenditure in Middle East | USD
|Saudi Arabia Regional Office||Budget|
|Syrian Arab Republic||Budget|
|Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office||Budget|
|United Arab Emirates||Budget|
2018 Voluntary Contributions to Middle East | USD
|Earmarking / Donor||Pillar 1
|Middle East overall|
|Private donors in Brazil||76,947||0||0||0||76,947|
|Private donors in Canada||0||0||0||7,770||7,770|
|Private donors in Egypt||0||0||0||304||304|
|Private donors in Kuwait||33,333||0||0||8,826||42,160|
|Private donors in Lebanon||48||0||0||36,416||36,464|
|Private donors in Oman||48||0||0||1,164||1,212|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||0||0||0||1,153||1,153|
|Private donors in Switzerland||0||0||0||311,610||311,610|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||0||0||0||49,513||49,513|
|United States of America||0||0||0||4,300,000||4,300,000|
|Middle East overall subtotal||415,377||0||0||4,764,546||5,179,923|
|Private donors in Brazil||0||0||3,159||0||3,159|
|Private donors in Italy||0||0||907||0||907|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||2,100,303||0||2,100,303|
|Private donors in Sweden||0||0||0||50,225||50,225|
|Private donors in Switzerland||0||0||0||11,452||11,452|
|Republic of Korea||0||0||0||1,200,000||1,200,000|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||269,376||0||0||0||269,376|
|United States of America||26,000,000||0||0||102,800,000||128,800,000|
|Private donors in Australia||316,598||0||0||0||316,598|
|Private donors in Canada||46,548||0||0||0||46,548|
|Private donors in China||637||0||0||0||637|
|Private donors in Egypt||4,625||0||0||0||4,625|
|Private donors in Germany||0||0||0||22,753||22,753|
|Private donors in Italy||59,012||0||0||0||59,012|
|Private donors in Kuwait||22,678||0||0||0||22,678|
|Private donors in Lebanon||225,371||0||0||35,066||260,437|
|Private donors in Oman||13,218||0||0||3,815||17,033|
|Private donors in Qatar||5,000,448||0||0||0||5,000,448|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||15,727||0||0||8,796||24,523|
|Private donors in Spain||12,270||0||0||0||12,270|
|Private donors in Switzerland||376,820||0||0||0||376,820|
|Private donors in the Netherlands||2,734,500||0||0||0||2,734,500|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||478,810||0||0||0||478,810|
|Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||6,684||0||0||0||6,684|
|Private donors in the United States of America||1,230,050||0||0||0||1,230,050|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||423,720||0||0||0||423,720|
|United States of America||80,456,175||0||0||3,000,000||83,456,175|
|Private donors in China||6,372||0||0||0||6,372|
|Private donors in Egypt||2,577||0||0||844||3,421|
|Private donors in Germany||117,925||0||0||0||117,925|
|Private donors in Indonesia||400,000||0||0||0||400,000|
|Private donors in Italy||175,153||0||0||70||175,223|
|Private donors in Kuwait||547,759||0||0||14,996||562,755|
|Private donors in Lebanon||194,632||0||0||0||194,632|
|Private donors in Oman||2,630||0||0||1,806||4,436|
|Private donors in Qatar||5,004,648||0||0||0||5,004,648|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||17,823||0||0||18,569||36,391|
|Private donors in Singapore||3,750||0||0||0||3,750|
|Private donors in Spain||3,472||0||0||0||3,472|
|Private donors in Switzerland||956,390||0||0||1,506||957,896|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||59,636||0||0||10,093||69,729|
|Private donors in the United States of America||67,900||0||0||14,641||82,541|
|Republic of Korea||1,000,000||0||0||0||1,000,000|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||1,804,020||0||0||0||1,804,020|
|United States of America||138,185,600||0||0||2,600,000||140,785,600|
|Regional activities subtotal||118,230||0||0||0||118,230|
|Saudi Arabia Regional Office|
|Saudi Arabia Regional Office subtotal||0||0||0||39,490||39,490|
|Syrian Arab Republic|
|Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan||0||0||6,525,592||0||6,525,592|
|OPEC Fund for International Development||0||500,000||0||0||500,000|
|Private donors in Austria||0||0||0||1,394||1,394|
|Private donors in Germany||0||0||0||144,718||144,718|
|Private donors in Italy||0||0||0||12,077||12,077|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||1,302,907||0||1,302,907|
|Private donors in Switzerland||0||0||756||0||756|
|Private donors in the Netherlands||0||0||1,179,655||0||1,179,655|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||0||0||120,375||102,230||222,605|
|Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||0||0||7,052||0||7,052|
|Private donors in the United States of America||0||0||0||1,000,000||1,000,000|
|Republic of Korea||0||0||0||1,000,000||1,000,000|
|United States of America||6,200,000||0||72,800,000||32,300,000||111,300,000|
|Syrian Arab Republic subtotal||7,365,501||500,000||116,506,238||66,214,181||190,585,921|
|Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office|
|Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan||0||0||3,701,874||0||3,701,874|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||160,500||0||0||0||160,500|
|United States of America||0||0||1,500,000||5,000,000||6,500,000|
|Syrian Regional Refugee Coordination Office subtotal||160,500||0||7,922,383||7,124,044||15,206,927|
|United Arab Emirates|
|United Arab Emirates||0||0||0||100,000||100,000|
|United Arab Emirates subtotal||0||0||0||100,000||100,000|
|Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)||0||0||5,970,599||0||5,970,599|
|Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan||2,403,501||0||4,345,505||0||6,749,007|
|Private donors in Germany||0||0||0||549,916||549,916|
|Private donors in Lebanon||0||0||0||1,483||1,483|
|Private donors in Oman||0||0||0||300||300|
|Private donors in Qatar||0||0||0||543,949||543,949|
|Private donors in Saudi Arabia||0||0||0||465||465|
|Private donors in Singapore||0||0||15,671||0||15,671|
|Private donors in the United Arab Emirates||0||0||0||746||746|
|Private donors in the United States of America||0||0||600,010||171,405||771,415|
|Republic of Korea||250,000||0||0||0||250,000|
|United Arab Emirates||7,425,000||0||23,336,120||0||30,761,120|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||2,677,877||0||4,669,493||0||7,347,370|
|United States of America||0||0||0||13,900,000||13,900,000|