Home > Where We Work > Africa


2014 UNHCR country operations profile - Africa


  • Conflict, violence and human rights abuses continue to create new displacement emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa. UNHCR foresees providing protection and assistance for nearly 3.4 million of refugees and asylum-seekers in 2014, compared to some 3.1 million in 2012. Some 5.4 million internally displaced people (IDPs), mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Somalia and Sudan, will also be in need of protection and assistance. In sum, it is expected that a total of some 11 million people will be of concern to UNHCR in Africa in 2014, including stateless people and returnees.

  • There are opportunities to realize durable solutions for refugees in different parts of Africa. Building on progress over the last three years in implementing comprehensive solutions for Angolan, Liberian and Rwandan refugees, UNHCR will continue pursuing such solutions, particularly for those who have been in exile for long periods. In West Africa, UNHCR will prepare for the return of refugees in small, but protracted situations, as well as for the possible return of Malian IDPs and refugees.

  • While recent positive political and socio-economic changes in Somalia are encouraging, more than 2 million Somalis remain displaced: some 1.1 million internally and nearly 1 million registered as refugees in neighbouring countries. Some of these refugees may return to some of the relatively stable areas of Somalia, but many are still in need of international protection. UNHCR will support returns to Somalia when conditions permit, while working to preserve the asylum space and strengthening livelihood opportunities for Somali refugees in the region.

  • In the Central Africa and Great Lakes region, new displacement crises are adding to the burdens imposed by those already existing. Among the latter is the virtually forgotten situation of more than 100,000 Central African refugees in Cameroon. Should conflict in the eastern DRC and the Central African Republic continue, UNHCR will have to protect and assist ever larger numbers of refugees from these countries; therefore adequate levels of emergency response capacity are being maintained.

  • In Southern Africa, where the growth in mixed migratory movements has led to increasing hostility towards refugees and a consequent squeeze on protection space, UNHCR's imperatives are to strengthen national asylum systems and improve the quality of refugee status determination (RSD) procedures.


Maintaining protection space

UNHCR will build a more favourable protection environment by ensuring that people of concern can avail themselves of fair protection processes and receive documentation. In recent emergencies, many States have generously provided refugee protection on a prima facie basis to large numbers of people fleeing the violence in their home countries. However, in some States more restrictive policies and attitudes have been directed at asylum-seekers and long-staying refugees, as well as at people travelling in mixed migratory movements. To counter this trend, UNHCR supports governments to ensure that they have well-functioning asylum systems and assists them in strengthening institutional frameworks. The Office also provides advice on national asylum legislation in several countries and will continue its cooperation with governments and regional partners to strengthen a protection-sensitive response to mixed migratory movements.

Combating SGVB

Registration and the issuance of individual documentation will be key protection activities in 2014 and 2015 in all operations, some of which will see the roll-out of biometric registration systems. In line with its Global Strategic Priorities, UNHCR will push for birth certificates to be issued to children born in exile.

UNHCR will continue to promote accession to the 2009 African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of IDPs in Africa (Kampala Convention), and help States to translate the provisions of the Convention into national law.

To combat exploitation and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), UNHCR's livelihood projects in Chad, the DRC, Ethiopia and Somalia aim at giving women and girls the means and skills to provide for themselves and their families. In eastern Sudan, UNHCR will implement a regional strategy and plan of action to curb the smuggling and trafficking of people in an effort to strengthen the protection of people of concern.

Where adequately funded, UNHCR will strive to provide household fuel supplies. This will reduce the exposure of women and girls to assault when they forage for firewood. The creation of safe school environments, improvements in camp security, the organization of community watch groups and the provision of lighting in public places will also help reduce the risk of sexual violence. Survivors of SGBV will receive counselling, medical services and legal aid.

Meeting basic needs

Meeting the basic needs of people of concern, notably in emergency situations, will continue to absorb a large share of UNHCR's budget in Africa. For 2014, one third is set aside for this purpose. Recent emergencies have seen UNHCR providing life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees. Among the beneficiaries were Sudanese fleeing into South Sudan; Malians who escaped to Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger; refugees from eastern Congo who fled into Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda; Central African refugees driven into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and the DRC; and Sudanese from Darfur forced to flee to Chad. With the possible exception of Mali, prospects of return are dim, and life-saving assistance will have to continue in 2014.

In both emergency operations and more stable situations, one of UNHCR's primary objectives is to ensure that refugees and others of concern have access to basic services, including education and health care. UNHCR will continue to do this by strengthening local structures and service providers wherever possible, rather than by establishing parallel systems.

In situations where there are more than 5,000 refugees, UNHCR's partner WFP will provide food. Where the number of refugees is lower, notably in Botswana, Eritrea and Namibia, food distribution will be UNHCR's responsibility. While the provision of food is clearly a priority, it poses a serious strain on the budgets of these small and underfunded operations.

Pursuing durable solutions

The search for durable solutions for refugees in protracted situations remains a key strategic objective for UNHCR in Africa. By June 2012, when the cessation of refugee status came into effect for Angolan and Liberian refugees, many had found durable solutions through voluntary repatriation or local integration. This work will continue in 2014, notably through the voluntary return of some 25,000 Angolans dispersed in the region, mostly in the DRC, as well as local integration in their countries of asylum of some 70,000 former refugees from Angola and 10,000 from Liberia.

The implementation of the respective elements of the comprehensive solutions strategy for Rwandan refugees will also continue in 2014, based on the differentiated approach endorsed by the concerned Governments at a ministerial meeting held in Pretoria in April 2013.

In 2014, UNHCR will make a concerted effort to bring closure to four small but long-standing refugee situations in Africa, namely those involving Mauritanian refugees in Mali and Senegal; Ghanaians in Togo; Chadian refugees in Niger; and Togolese in Benin and Ghana. In addition, UNHCR is planning to facilitate the return of some 20,000 Ivorian refugees, mainly from Liberia and Ghana, as well as more than 6,000 DRC refugees in the Central African Republic. In Mali, UNHCR will strengthen its presence in Gao and Timbuktu in order to assist IDPs, as well as to prepare for the anticipated return of 15,000 refugees in 2014, and a larger number in 2015. Somali refugees who wish to return, in particular from Ethiopia and Kenya, will receive UNHCR's support.

Resettlement will remain an important component of the multi-year plan for Congolese refugees, adopted in 2012. The plan aims to resettle some 50,000 DRC refugees living in Africa over a four-year period. Special attention will also continue to be paid to resettlement needs of Somalis, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sudanese refugees in long exile.

Strengthening emergency capacity

Strengthening emergency preparedness and response capacity will be one of UNHCR's global strategic priorities for 2014, with particular relevance in Africa. While the organization maintains a global capacity to respond to new displacement crises, additional funding to cope with unforeseen emergencies will be presented in supplementary appeals.

Addressing statelessness

To address statelessness and citizenship issues, many operations have included the issuance of birth certificates for babies born to refugees as a priority in their 2014-2015 plans. Meanwhile, UNHCR will continue to press for legislation and practical measures to prevent statelessness. In Côte d'Ivoire, UNHCR will support the modernization of the civil registration process, including through campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of registration for children. In Sudan, individuals of mixed Sudanese-South Sudanese parentage remain at risk of statelessness, as do those who have lived for a long time in Sudan and who face difficulties in proving their entitlement to South Sudanese nationality. UNHCR will help the South Sudanese Government to provide nationality documents and passports for South Sudanese. It will also help the Sudanese Directorate of the Civil Registry to improve the civil and birth registration system as a means of reducing the risk of statelessness.

Building partnership

Partnership with governments, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations will remain a defining feature of all UNHCR programmes in Africa. UNHCR will work with the African Union on the implementation by its member States of the Kampala Convention. It will also assist in the follow-up to the second Conference on Civil Registration, held in South Africa in 2012. UNHCR works with some 250 NGOs in Africa, including 60 national organizations. Coordination and collaboration with UN agencies and other partners under the framework of the Transformative Agenda will also continue.


Though recent refugee emergencies have seen tens of thousands of people finding protection in countries neighbouring their own, asylum fatigue continues to grow in Africa, particularly in countries and regions facing protracted refugee situations or mixed migratory movements.

Policies that force refugees to remain in camps and limit their freedom of movement within a country hamper their efforts to become self-reliant. A ruling by Kenya's Supreme Court against a proposed governmental directive to oblige all refugees in urban centres to relocate to the refugee camps in Dadaab and Kakuma has been a welcome development.

Currently, the bulk of UNHCR's funding for Africa is allocated to immediate life-saving activities. This does not allow for investments in longer-term projects that would help returnees or refugees to integrate locally or become self-reliant.

In many parts of Africa, access to people of concern is limited by insecurity, lack of rule of law, a dearth of even the most basic infrastructure, such as passable roads, and environmental challenges, including heavy and erratic rainfall. Sometimes, the access challenges can be overcome by airlifting supplies and staff, as for example in South Sudan and Chad, however, this makes operations very costly. In other instances, as for example in the Central African Republic, Sudan and Somalia, access to parts of the country remains limited, with UNHCR and its partners taking advantage of every small window of opportunity to bring humanitarian assistance to people of concern.


The organization-wide move in 2010 from a resource-based to a comprehensive needs-based methodology for planning and budgeting partly explains the increase in the region's financial requirements as of 2010 when compared with previous years. However, UNHCR's financial requirements in Africa have continued to grow over the last few years, rising from USD 1.2 billion in 2010 to a revised 2013 budget of USD 1.9 billion. Yet funding has not kept pace with needs, which have grown due both to the many new emergencies and to accrued efforts to find durable solutions for refugees in protracted situations.

The 2014 financial requirements for UNHCR's operations in Africa amount to USD 1.9 billion. The financial requirements to cope with known emergencies have been included in this Global Appeal, however new emergencies may warrant a revision of the requirements.

Given the widening gap between funding and needs in Africa, life-saving basic needs and services have been prioritized at the expense of investments in solutions. Likewise, the refugee programme will be prioritized over IDP projects in the allocation of resources.

UNHCR budgets for Africa (USD)
Operation 2013
Revised budget
(as of 30 June 2013)
2014 2015
Total 1,910,692,382 1,546,818,029 20,105,880 96,900,210 229,642,103 1,893,466,222 1,815,002,606
Burkina Faso 32,753,156 25,708,635 0 0 0 25,708,635 21,375,365
Côte d'Ivoire 27,845,564 15,734,062 2,711,306 8,889,473 0 27,334,841 26,437,761
Ghana 12,074,330 10,905,473 0 230,000 0 11,135,473 9,009,965
Guinea 5,426,493 4,873,471 0 0 0 4,873,471 3,750,401
Liberia 42,509,986 35,325,663 0 0 0 35,325,663 35,284,295
Mali 32,210,807 10,698,434 0 0 49,137,181 59,835,614 67,736,851
Niger 52,925,462 41,533,971 0 0 0 41,533,971 33,009,140
Senegal Regional Office 74,545,326 47,620,637 1,124,710 210,000 0 48,955,347 43,476,362
Subtotal 280,291,125 192,400,346 3,836,016 9,329,473 49,137,181 254,703,016 240,080,140
Chad 196,584,975 197,069,508 0 0 0 197,069,508 160,558,342
Djibouti 26,238,538 26,956,902 0 0 0 26,956,902 27,117,547
Eritrea 5,634,386 6,261,668 0 0 0 6,261,668 6,291,482
Ethiopia 192,820,590 199,806,798 0 0 0 199,806,798 200,135,687
Ethiopia (Regional Liaison Office to the AU and ECA) 1,516,514 2,026,808 0 0 0 2,026,808 2,026,808
Kenya 251,587,167 228,651,302 370,316 0 0 229,021,618 227,612,479
Kenya Regional Support Hub 10,342,193 11,092,658 0 0 0 11,092,658 11,145,482
Somalia 55,309,260 23,920,901 0 11,401,251 34,308,286 69,630,438 79,321,574
Sudan 116,729,694 65,115,527 3,360,701 0 28,973,243 97,449,471 97,953,640
South Sudan 219,050,246 191,894,678 8,771,864 0 29,401,392 230,067,933 220,174,985
Uganda 92,376,553 113,936,841 65,000 3,605,705 0 117,607,547 118,349,359
Regional activities 6,071,180 9,403,169 0 0 0 9,403,169 7,889,918
Subtotal 1,174,261,296 1,076,136,761 12,567,880 15,006,956 92,682,920 1,196,394,517 1,158,577,303
Burundi 31,543,912 24,773,311 121,631 0 199,829 25,094,771 24,989,448
Cameroon 19,015,028 24,217,605 792,931 0 0 25,010,536 23,020,000
Central African Republic 23,619,665 12,859,228 0 0 11,495,913 24,355,141 30,355,141
Congo 29,586,000 29,948,467 0 0 0 29,948,467 20,619,611
Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Office 183,197,418 52,757,703 1,647,481 47,129,091 75,435,705 176,969,980 176,969,980
Rwanda 46,351,441 49,188,547 0 2,628,451 0 51,816,998 42,100,000
United Republic of Tanzania 39,607,039 15,989,087 0 22,806,240 0 38,795,327 32,708,085
Subtotal 372,920,503 209,733,949 2,562,042 72,563,781 87,131,447 371,991,220 350,762,266
Angola 4,697,332 4,770,320 0 0 0 4,770,320 4,488,565
Botswana 5,457,590 5,045,679 0 0 0 5,045,679 4,099,260
Malawi 4,238,716 4,306,906 0 0 0 4,306,906 4,306,906
Mozambique 5,028,790 5,050,727 363,556 0 0 5,414,283 5,414,283
Namibia 3,752,034 3,951,101 0 0 0 3,951,101 2,917,061
South Africa Regional Office 37,641,642 25,594,088 776,385 0 0 26,370,474 26,355,474
Zambia 14,943,956 13,693,565 0 0 0 13,693,565 11,119,199
Zimbabwe 7,459,399 6,134,588 0 0 690,555 6,825,143 6,882,150
Subtotal 83,219,458 68,546,973 1,139,941 0 690,555 70,377,469 65,582,898

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105