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2015 UNHCR subregional operations profile - Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe

| Overview |

UNHCR 2015 Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe subregional operations map

The number of asylum applications received in 2014 in European Union (EU) Member States has risen by 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. A quarter of the applicants are of Afghan, Eritrean or Syrian origin, and a similar proportion are under 18 years of age. There have also been many more asylum applications from stateless people, with an estimated total of 436,000 people across the European Union. Germany continues to be the recipient of the largest number of asylum applications, followed by France, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom.

In the first seven months of 2014, more than 87,000 people arrived in Italy by sea, mainly from Eritrea and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria). In an effort to reduce the risks linked to such journeys, in October 2013 the Italian Government launched the Mare Nostrum operation, which has rescued more than 100,000 people. Greece and Spain also recorded an increase in arrivals.

The economic situation in the region has had an impact on the capacity and readiness of many countries to strengthen their protection systems. Austerity measures have also hit civil-society organizations that provide services to asylum-seekers and refugees. Xenophobia and intolerance have led to incidents of discrimination and violence. States have responded by concentrating on curbing irregular movements, including through tighter border controls and detention, or penalization for illegal entry.

UNHCR will build on international and regional law and policy to support States' efforts to find durable solutions for unaccompanied and separated children, who have been arriving in the subregion in large numbers.

The Office continues to be particularly concerned about reports that some EU countries are placing barriers to entry or forcibly returning asylum-seekers and refugees.

In April 2014, the European Union adopted the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, representing a commitment of over EUR 3 billion for the next seven years (2014-2020). A major portion of this fund will be allocated to Member States' national programmes to complement their own domestic budgets, which should help improve asylum systems, reception modalities, and integration policies.

In this context, UNHCR's work in the subregion will also focus on:

  • Assisting and supporting governments to build and maintain fair and efficient asylum and protection systems;

  • Ensuring border management is more protection-sensitive. The Office will promote alternatives to detention. It will also advocate for reception conditions that meet minimum international standards;

  • Promoting responsibility-sharing among EU Member States, complementing the efforts of the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO);

  • Promoting community participation and preventing and responding to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence(SGBV);

  • Advocating for more resettlement places and enhancing integration capacity in resettlement countries;

  • Urging States to accede to the 1954 and 1961 UN Statelessness Conventions, improving mechanisms to identify and protect stateless people and preventing and resolving situations of statelessness; and

  • Supporting EU policy-making processes related to people of concern and mobilizing regional political and financial support for UNHCR's work worldwide.

| Response and implementation |

Asylum and protection

In 2015, one of UNHCR's priorities will be to ensure the safeguarding of asylum space. To prevent deaths at sea, the organization will work with European States towards more concerted action. These efforts will be guided by its Central Mediterranean Sea Initiative (CMSI), which includes measures not only within the European Union, but also in transit or first asylum countries, and in countries of origin. The CMSI seeks to strengthen cooperation with relevant stakeholders. Admission practices will be monitored and the capacity of immigration and coast guard officials built, to help prevent refoulement and ensure that those in need of international protection can access territory.

UNHCR offices in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom will follow up on measures in respect of the Response to Vulnerability project. Standard operating procedures will be instituted in reception centres to respond to incidents of SGBV.

The Office will pursue efforts to build and maintain an effective asylum and protection system. Since 2013, UNHCR and the Government of Albania have worked in close collaboration to ensure the safe arrival of more than 240 former residents of the Hurriya temporary transit location (ex-Ashraf) in Iraq who are in need of international protection, and will continue working on durable solutions for this refugee group.

UNHCR will also work to assure reception conditions and procedures that are adequate for responding to asylum-seekers' specific needs and maintaining their dignity. UNHCR and UNICEF are developing guidance on how States can ensure respect for the best interests of unaccompanied children in Europe.

In line with the organization's global Beyond Detention strategy, rolled out in Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and the United Kingdom, the Office will promote alternatives to detention, as well as the release of children held and improvements in detention conditions.

Monitoring and reporting on national practices will help identify gaps and good practice. The follow-up study to Beyond Proof, which assesses credibility in claims lodged by unaccompanied children, will be completed in 2014 and will require implementation in 2015.

Having analysed the reasons for their movements, UNHCR has started developing a more comprehensive protection strategy for Afghans.

Comments on legislation in the context of the transposition of the asylum acquis, comparative analyses and judicial engagement, will allow UNHCR to contribute to the setting of national and regional legal standards. It will implement quality audit mechanisms and participate in some national asylum procedures, such as those in France, Italy and Spain.

UNHCR will continue to complement EASO's efforts to improve practical cooperation among EU Member States in building asylum systems and improving the quality of country-of-origin information.

The Office will pursue its efforts to identify cases for judicial engagement with national and European courts. It will continue to support the conference of refugee law judges in Germany. Judicial engagement and court interventions will permit UNHCR to ensure the correct application of relevant laws in refugee cases.

UNHCR works closely with civil-society organizations and others involved in refugee protection. Innovative approaches include high-visibility campaigns in public spaces and transport. In 2015, particular attention will be paid to improving social media communication.

Durable solutions

Despite 22 out of 36 countries contributing to UNHCR's resettlement efforts in some capacity, the number of resettlement places for the region remain limited. Special attention will be devoted to resettlement and humanitarian admission of Syrian refugees, and the Office will continue managing the Emergency Transit Centres in Timisoara (Romania) and Humenné (Slovakia).

In order to enhance reception and integration capacities and improve refugees' local integration prospects, the Office will work to raise awareness of the integration challenges facing 1.6 million refugees in the region and to promote good practice in labour market integration, housing and the building of social and professional networks.


UNHCR has launched a 10-year campaign to end statelessness, and will advocate for more EU Member States to accede to the 1954 and 1961 UN Statelessness Conventions. The organization will encourage and support States to adopt national action plans to address statelessness, conduct public awareness activities and advocate for a formal identification and protection mechanism for stateless people be established in countries that lack one.

The Office will continue to advocate for law reform preventing statelessness at birth or later in life, and the facilitation of naturalization. Cooperation with the European Network on Statelessness will continue.

| Financial information |

The budget for the subregion has increased significantly in the past years, from USD 51.1 million in 2011 to USD 68.1 million in 2015, primarily owing to the impact of the Syria Situation and asylum-seekers arriving by boat to the shores of Southern Europe.

The budget for the subregion will however be reduced during the course of 2015 as the operation in Albania will move to South-Eastern Europe within the context of UNHCR's regionalization process in the western Balkans.

Approximately 94 per cent of the 2015 budget is allocated to refugee programmes, with the remaining 6 per cent for statelessness activities.

UNHCR 2015 budgets for Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe (USD)
Operation 2014
Revised budget
(as of 30 June 2014)
Total 68,075,927 62,431,037 4,479,646 1,191,163 68,101,847
1. Includes activities in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Liaison Office in Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
2. Includes activities in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and as from 2015, also Croatia.
3. Includes activities in Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain.
4. Includes activities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway.
Belgium Regional Office[1] 14,521,916 14,603,538 1,431,980 0 16,035,518
Hungary Regional Office[2] 17,069,083 11,993,641 1,702,007 1,191,163 14,886,811
Italy Regional Office[3] 24,976,188 22,677,175 223,092 0 22,900,267
Sweden Regional Office[4] 5,538,754 4,518,289 965,440 0 5,483,728
Regional Activities 5,969,986 8,638,394 157,127 0 8,795,521

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update

UNHCR contact information

UNHCR Representation for Germany
Style of Address UNHCR Representative in Germany
Street Address Zimmerstrasse 79/80, 10117 Berlin, Germany, Germany
Mailing Address Zimmerstrasse 79/80, 10117 Berlin, Germany, Germany
Telephone 49 30 202 2020
Facsimile 49 30 202 20220
Time Zone GMT + 1
Working Hours
Monday:9:00 - 18:00
Tuesday:9:00 - 18:00
Wednesday:9:00 - 18:00
Thursday:9:00 - 18:00
Public Holidays 01 January 2016, New Year's day
25 March 2016, Good Friday
28 March 2016, Easter Monday
05 May 2016, Ascension day
16 May 2016, Pentecost
06 July 2016, Eid Al-Fitr
12 September 2016, Eid Al-Adha
03 October 2016, German Unification Day
01 November 2016, All Saint's Day
26 December 2016, Boxing Day
Comments Germany also has a Sub-office in Nuremberg. Germany belongs to the Regional Representation for Western Europe.
The UNHCR Sub-Office at Nürnberg
Style of Address The UNHCR Head of Sub-Office at Nürnberg
Street Address Frankenstr. 210, 90461 Nurnberg, Germany
Mailing Address Frankenstr. 210, 90461 Nurnberg, Germany
Telephone 49 911 44 21 00
Facsimile 49 911 44 21 80
Time Zone GMT + 1
Working Hours
Monday:9:00 - 17:00
Tuesday:9:00 - 17:00
Wednesday:9:00 - 17:00
Thursday:9:00 - 17:00
Friday:9:00 - 17:00


Statistical Snapshot*
* As at June 2015
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose applications for asylum or refugee status are pending as at 30 June 2015 at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Germany [1]
Refugees [2] 250,299
Asylum Seekers [3] 311,551
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 11,978
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 573,828
Originating from Germany [1]
Refugees [2] 174
Asylum Seekers [3] 87
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 2
Total Population of Concern 263
Government Contributions to UNHCR
2013 Contributions Breakdown
Total contribution in USD: 116,617,788 [rank: 6]
Total contribution in currency: 87,693,512 (EUR); 918,517 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 10,389,610 [rank: 11]
Donor ranking per GDP: 19
Donor ranking per capita: 18
2013 Contributions chart
Contributions since 2000
More info139,383,977
As at 15 January 2015
More info116,617,788
Total contribution in USD: 116,617,788 [rank: 6]
Total contribution in currency: 87,693,512 (EUR); 918,517 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 10,389,610 [rank: 11]
Donor ranking per GDP: 19
Donor ranking per capita: 18
More info69,262,446
Total contribution in USD: 69,262,446 [rank: 8]
Total contribution in currency: 52,275,000 (EUR); 31,500 (NAD); 1,061,627 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 10,133,333 [rank: 12]
Donor ranking per GDP: 20
Donor ranking per capita: 19
More info55,678,221
Total contribution in USD: 55,678,221 [rank: 10]
Total contribution in currency: 36,120,995 EUR; 6,196,243 USD
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 8,063,951 [rank: 14]
Donor ranking per GDP: 19
Donor ranking per capita: 18
More info49,739,460
Total contribution in USD: 49,739,460 (rank: 9)
Total contribution in currency: 32,892,080 EUR; 6,612,750 USD
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 9,723,610 (rank: 13)
Donor ranking per GDP: 22
Donor ranking per capita: 22
More info54,529,973
Total contribution in USD: 54,529,973 (rank: 7)
Total contribution in currency: 38,050,099 EUR; 1,489,013 USD
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 10,872,675 (rank: 10)
Donor ranking per GDP: 22
Donor ranking per capita: 22
More info48,884,187
Total contribution in USD: 48,884,187 (rank: 9)
Total contribution in currency: 28,152,001 (EUR); 6,897,997 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 8,065,870 [1] (rank: 13)
Donor ranking per GDP: 23
Donor ranking per capita: 21
[1] USD 267,036 of the unrestricted contribution was attributed to the DAFI programme
More info33,285,877
Total contribution in USD: 33,285,877 (rank: 11)
Total contribution in currency: 20,643,236 (EUR); 3,213,811 (USD); 614,760,960 (BIF); 73,736,240 (KES); 53,470,000 (RWF); 113,131,400 (TZS); 526,829,239 (UGX)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 5,639,018 (rank: 13)
Donor ranking per GDP: 22
Donor ranking per capita: 21
More info31,087,430
Total contribution in USD: 31,087,430 (rank: 9)
Total contribution in currency: 20,905,619 (EUR); 3,898,746 (USD); 621,985,780 (BIF); 61,638,456 (RWF); 347,027,900 (UGX)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 5,114,551 (rank: 12)
Donor ranking per GDP: 18
Donor ranking per capita: 18
More info40,157,377
USD 40,157,377 of which USD 5,764,660 (14%) unrestricted, USD 34,222,653 (85%) earmarked at the sectoral / thematic level and USD 170,064 (1%) for JPOs.
More info31,193,696
USD 31,193,696 of which USD 5,457,317 (17%) was unrestricted, USD 300,842 (1%) at the subregional level and USD 25,435,537 (82%) at the sectoral / thematic level.
More info32,557,319
USD 32,557,319 of which USD 5,491,944 (17%) was unrestricted, USD 271,150 (1%) earmarked at the regional level, USD 5,376,712 (17%) at the subregional level and USD 21,417,513 (65%) at the sectoral level.
More info30,560,090
USD 30,560,090 of which USD 4,500,880 unrestricted (15%), USD 26,059,210 earmarked at the sectoral level (85%).
More info29,233,868
USD 29,233,868 of which 4,019,188 (14%) unrestricted and 25,214,680 (86%) earmarked.
More info15,144,266
USD 15,144,266 of which 4,162,277 (27%) unrestricted and 10,981,989 (73%) earmarked.
Private Sector Contributions to UNHCR
Private sector fund raising 2013

Total contribution in USD: 9,149,960
Total contribution in currency: 6,847,111 (EUR); 10,000 (CHF)
Major donorUSD
UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe Stiftung e.V.9,138,935

2013 Contributions chart
Contributions since 2006
More info14,084,264
As at 15 January 2015
More info 9,149,960

Total contribution in USD: 9,149,960
Total contribution in currency: 6,847,111 (EUR); 10,000 (CHF)
Major donorUSD
UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe Stiftung e.V.9,138,935
More info 4,879,196

Total contribution in USD: 4,879,196
Total contribution in currency: 3,800,000 (EUR)
Major donorsUSD
Deutsche Stiftung für UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe4,879,196
More info 6,182,154

Total contribution in USD: 6,182,154
Total contribution in currency: 4,112,833 (EUR); 500,000 (USD)
Major donorsUSD
Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation500,000
BILD hilft e.V. "Ein Herz für Kinder"332,144
BASF Social Foundation272,851
Lions Club Austria113,333
More info 3,217,040

Total contribution in USD: 3,217,040
Total contribution in currency: 2,500,000 EUR
2009 1,883,630
2008 1,815,412
2007 1,696,919
2006 1,716,687

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Abdu finds his voice in Germany

When bombs started raining down on Aleppo, Syria, in 2012, the Khawan family had to flee. According to Ahmad, the husband of Najwa and father of their two children, the town was in ruins within 24 hours.

The family fled to Lebanon where they shared a small flat with Ahmad's two brothers and sisters and their children. Ahmad found sporadic work which kept them going, but he knew that in Lebanon his six-year-old son, Abdu, who was born deaf, would have little chance for help.

The family was accepted by Germany's Humanitarian Assistance Programme and resettled into the small central German town of Wächtersbach, near Frankfurt am Main. Nestled in a valley between two mountain ranges and a forest, the village has an idyllic feel.

A year on, Abdu has undergone cochlear implant surgery for the second time. He now sports two new hearing aids which, when worn together, allow him to hear 90 per cent. He has also joined a regular nursery class, where he is learning for the first time to speak - German in school and now Arabic at home. Ahmed is likewise studying German in a nearby village, and in two months he will graduate with a language certificate and start looking for work. He says that he is proud at how quickly Abdu is learning and integrating.

Abdu finds his voice in Germany

Through the Clouds to Germany: One Syrian Family's Journey

On Wednesday, Germany launched a humanitarian programme to provide temporary shelter and safety to up to 5,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. A first group of 107 flew to Hanover in the northern city of Hanover. They will attend cultural orientation courses to prepare them for life over the next two years in Germany, where they will be able to work, study and access basic services. Among the group are Ahmad and his family, including a son who is deaf and needs constant care that was not available in Lebanon. The family fled from Syria in late 2012 after life became too dangerous and too costly in the city of Aleppo, where Ahmad sold car spare parts. Photographer Elena Dorfman followed the family in Beirut as they prepared to depart for the airport and their journey to Germany.

Through the Clouds to Germany: One Syrian Family's Journey

Germany: Refugees CrossingPlay video

Germany: Refugees Crossing

With a huge influx of migrants and refugees heading towards Germany, a bottleneck has appeared at the border with Austria, between Freilassing and Salzburg. Around 1500 people are in the camps on the Salzburg side, waiting for entry into Germany.

Germany: Refugee arrivals in MunichPlay video

Germany: Refugee arrivals in Munich

On Sunday, 6 September 2015 thousands of refugees who crossed from Hungary into Austria arrived at Munich Central Station. After an initial medical check, the authorities and volunteers escorted them to regional trains heading north. Others boarded buses to spend their first nights in Germany in a reception facility in Bavaria.

Germany: New Hope in KeilPlay video

Germany: New Hope in Keil

Teenage refugee Abdullah was resettled in Germany, where he was finally able to get the life-saving medical help he needed to treat a blood disorder.

UNHCR: Looking for Safe ShoresPlay video

UNHCR: Looking for Safe Shores

2014 has been a record year for movements by sea with desperate people take terrifying risks for the slimmest chance to reach safer lands.

Germany: Sounds of SilencePlay video

Germany: Sounds of Silence

Born deaf, little Abdu fled the war in Syria at age three. Now he lives in Germany, where surgery and hearing aids are transforming his world.

Lebanon: Syrian Refugees Leaving for Germany 
Play video

Lebanon: Syrian Refugees Leaving for Germany

Ahmad is among a first group of 107 Syrian refugees offered temporary shelter by Germany under a special humanitarian programme. He and his family flew out from Lebanon today for Hanover. Ahmad welcomed the opportunity given by Germany.