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2015 UNHCR regional operations profile - Africa


UNHCR 2015 Africa regional operations map

  • Massive new displacements caused by conflict, violence and human rights abuses are likely to continue to affect many countries on the continent in 2015. The projected numbers of people of concern in Africa in 2015 are expected to decrease slightly (from 15.1 million in 2014 to 14.9 million), due to repatriation, resettlement and other durable solutions. However, the scale of the displacement caused by the upheaval inside the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, as well as into neighbouring countries, is likely to remain extensive in the year ahead.

  • In Africa, the right to seek and enjoy asylum is largely respected - with some 3 million refugees having found in exile the safety and protection they have lost at home. The generosity of hosting countries in Africa is outstanding; but in recent years, some core values of the protection system have been challenged, with instances of refoulement, as well as difficult access for UNHCR to people who may be in need of international protection. In Southern Africa, an increase in mixed migratory movements has also led to growing hostility towards refugees, putting pressure on asylum and protection space.

  • More positively, since 2009, implementation of the comprehensive durable solutions strategy for the Angolan refugee situation has continued, in particular through repatriations from Botswana, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. In addition, local integration measures are being implemented for former Angolan refugees, notably in Zambia.

  • With respect to the 1 million Somali refugees, for whom the High Commissioner launched the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees in 2013, a Tripartite Agreement for the repatriation of Somali refugees has been concluded between the Kenyan and Somali Governments and UNHCR. However, large-scale voluntary repatriation and return to Somalia cannot yet be realized. In the meantime, spontaneous returns are supported.

  • In West Africa, progress in re-establishing peace and security throughout Côte d'Ivoire has led to the continuous return of Ivorian refugees from neighbouring countries since 2011. Between January 2013 and June 2014, some 26,000 refugees returned to Côte d'Ivoire in organized convoys. In June 2014, however, the repatriation operation had to be suspended because of the spread of the Ebola virus in neighbouring Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

  • A significant proportion of Mali's population - 267,000 people - remains displaced internally and externally. A Regional Return and Reintegration Strategy was developed as part of the United Nations' Strategic Response Plan for the Sahel and the Government's Accelerated Strategy for northern Mali; and in May 2014, UNHCR and the Governments of Mali and Niger signed a Tripartite Agreement in preparation for voluntary repatriation, once the security situation is deemed sufficiently improved. Meanwhile, the Office will continue working towards the improvement of conditions in return areas, focusing on a community-based approach that fosters social cohesion.

  • The insurgency in the federal states of Adamawa, Borno and Kobe in north-eastern Nigeria has provoked the displacement of a large number of people, forcing more than 650,000 to flee their homes within the country, and an estimated 70,000 to take refuge across the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger.


Maintaining protection space

In the face of restrictive policies applied by some States towards asylum-seekers and long-term refugees, the Office will pursue its work with governments to ensure that asylum systems are in place, and to strengthen national and regional institutional frameworks. UNHCR will also continue to collaborate with governments and regional partners to reinforce a protection-sensitive response to the challenges of mixed migration.

Combating sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)

UNHCR will continue its fight against SGBV in all operations across the continent. Measures will include providing household fuel supplies in order to reduce the exposure of women to assault when they forage for firewood. In 2015, SGBV survivors will also continue to benefit from counselling and medical services as well as legal aid. Creating safe school environments, improving camp security, organizing community watch groups and providing lighting in public spaces will also help reduce the risks of SGBV.

Meeting basic needs

Meeting the basic needs of people of concern will continue to represent a large part of UNHCR's budget in Africa. Particularly critical is the need for a reliable food supply for those who do not have the means or capacity to produce their own. Since the end of 2013, food shortfalls have resulted in distribution cuts for refugees, sometimes by up to 50 per cent. Joint appeals with WFP have been issued in 2014, in efforts to ensure a stable supply, particularly in light of the threat of famine looming in South Sudan. These efforts will continue into 2015.

Across Africa, UNHCR will continue to work to ensure that people of concern have access to basic services, including education and health care, by strengthening local structures and service providers.

Pursuing durable solutions

Bringing closure to as many protracted refugee situations as possible will remain a key objective for UNHCR in Africa in 2015.

The regional comprehensive solutions strategy for the DRC refugee situation being implemented in the Central Africa and Great Lakes subregion foresees the resettlement of at least 50,000 Congolese refugees between 2012 and 2017. This will be complemented by efforts to advocate for better protection and local integration opportunities through enhanced livelihoods and better access to social services for refugees. Where conditions for safe returns are met, UNHCR will continue to support voluntary repatriation.

In the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanzania), UNHCR will strengthen its support for the local integration of more than 162,000 Burundian refugees who have been living in the old settlements since 1972. In September 2014, the Government of Tanzania confirmed its decision to grant citizenship to these long-staying Burundians. UNHCR, together with other partners, will strive to assist their self-reliance and ensure access to basic services.

Conditions in the north of Mali remain generally insecure and unpredictable, and are not yet conducive for the promotion of voluntary repatriation. However, UNHCR will continue to assist the spontaneous return of those willing to do so. A tripartite agreement for the facilitation of voluntary return was signed in May 2014 between UNHCR and the Governments of Mali and Niger. It is expected that similar agreements will be concluded also with the Governments of Burkina Faso and Mauritania, where significant numbers of Malian refugees live. More than encouraging repatriation, these tripartite agreements aim to provide a platform for discussions of concerns of governments, while maintaining the core tenets of any repatriation movement: voluntariness, security and dignity.

In Benin and Ghana, the Office is working together with the Governments on durable solutions for the Togolese refugees. This year, the Government of Benin issued residence permits for a 10-year period for refugees from Chad, the DRC, Rwanda and Togo. Opportunities have also begun to emerge as solutions for Mauritanian refugees in Mali.

Efforts to achieve the local integration of former Angolan, Liberian and Rwandan refugees will be pursued. In Zambia, the Government's pledge to locally integrate some 10,000 former Angolan refugees is being implemented. In the DRC, up to 18,000 former Angolan refugees will be assisted to integrate locally. In Namibia, after successful implementation of solutions for the majority of refugees, UNHCR will phase out its presence in 2015, while continuing to engage closely with the Government through the Regional Office in South Africa.

Addressing statelessness

As part of efforts to reduce the numbers of stateless people in Africa, many UNHCR country operations have included the regular issuance of birth certificates for children born to refugees as a priority for 2015. The Office will support the modernization of the civil registration process, and initiate awareness-raising campaigns to highlight the importance of child registration to ensure children's access to basic human rights including education and health care. Similarly, UNHCR will collaborate in the African Union-led Civil Registration and Vital Statistics process. In Sudan, people with mixed Sudanese and South Sudanese parentage - as well as those who lived in Sudan for a long time - struggle to prove their entitlement to South Sudanese nationality. These individuals continue to be at risk of statelessness. In this regard, the Office will continue to assist the South

Sudanese Government to provide nationality documentation. UNHCR will also support the civil registry project in Sudan, which is aimed at documenting nationals, thereby helping to reduce statelessness.

Building partnership

In 2015, UNHCR operations in Africa will continue to prioritize their partnerships with governments, NGOs, civil society and international organizations. The Office will notably engage host governments in taking over key activities for people of concern. For example, in Cameroon, Chad, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, efforts will continue to integrate refugees' needs in national education and health services. UNHCR offices in Cameroon and in Kenya are preparing to hand over refugee status determination (RSD) activities to the respective Governments, while in Rwanda priority will be given to building and strengthening the national RSD system.


The scale and volatility of humanitarian crises in Africa continue to represent formidable challenges, as demonstrated in 2014 by the CAR and South Sudan emergency situations. Responding to the critical needs of newly-displaced refugees and IDPs, while maintaining programmed activities for existing situations, is a constant dilemma.

In several parts of Africa, access to people of concern is still limited by insecurity, impassable roads and heavy rains. In some cases, these challenges can be overcome by airlifting needed humanitarian items, such as in South Sudan, but this is a very costly alternative. The spread of the Ebola epidemic also brings new, unforeseen challenges for UNHCR's programmes and will be closely monitored in 2015, in close partnership with other actors.

Ongoing protection challenges, for which UNHCR will continue to seek appropriate responses wherever possible, include: cases of refoulement and/or denial of access to asylum; weak national legal and institutional mechanisms in the protection of refugees; non-enjoyment by refugees of basic rights such as freedom of movement and right to work, access to basic services including health and education; SGBV; inability to attain self-sufficiency and build livelihoods; difficulty to ensure the sustainability of return and reintegration; pressure on countries hosting exceptionally high numbers of refugees without the financial and human resources to cope; and the lack of reliable data and information on the issues of statelessness and of human trafficking and smuggling.

The scale of irregular migration movements within and from the continent continues to have a negative impact on the asylum space for refugees. Yet continued economic hardship, combined with human rights abuses, weak governance and the impact of climate change, show no signs of abating and continue to persuade many people to take the risk of moving - sometimes at the cost of their lives - to seek a better existence elsewhere.


UNHCR's revised budget for ongoing programmes in Africa in 2014 stands at USD 2.5 billion, including for emergencies such as the continuing crisis in the CAR; the South Sudan situation; the crisis in northern Nigeria; the outbreak of Ebola in several countries in West Africa; and the natural disasters affecting parts of East Africa, all of which have increased the needs of operations in the course of the year. In several cases, as new requirements quickly outstripped the available resources for the respective country operations, supplementary appeals have been launched in the course of the year.

In just five years, since 2009 - when requirements for operations in sub-Saharan Africa amounted to some USD 817 million - UNHCR's budgetary needs have more than tripled. Yet funding made available has covered less than half of the requirements. The resulting gap has had a significant impact on the scope and quality of the assistance that can be provided to displaced people in Africa. Securing funding for programmes beyond life-saving activities, such as self-reliance programmes for protracted situations and the realization of solutions, is a considerable challenge for UNHCR.

The ExCom-approved programme budget for 2015 stands at USD 2.2 billion. However, it is most likely that additional requirements for the ongoing emergencies, or for new situations that could not have been anticipated when the 2015 programme budget was set, may arise in 2015.

UNHCR 2015 budgets for Africa (USD)
Operation 2014
Revised budget
(as of 30 June 2014)
Total 2,483,991,873 1,711,101,653 21,229,908 88,101,481 349,019,219 2,169,452,261
1. Includes activities in Benin, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo.
2. Includes activities in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Burkina Faso 25,708,635 20,167,209 0 0 0 20,167,209
Côte d'Ivoire 27,337,841 14,533,233 3,599,304 7,917,216 0 26,049,754
Ghana 11,137,473 10,693,861 0 0 0 10,693,861
Guinea 4,874,471 5,378,500 0 0 0 5,378,500
Liberia 35,328,663 25,278,092 0 0 0 25,278,092
Mali 69,589,103 48,598,107 0 10,754,399 8,058,010 67,410,517
Niger 41,657,211 31,526,607 0 0 0 31,526,607
Senegal Regional Office[1] 49,438,494 42,529,993 1,948,594 0 2,475,974 46,954,560
Subtotal 265,071,891 198,705,603 5,547,898 18,671,616 10,533,984 233,459,101
Chad 224,960,109 161,897,714 591,058 0 0 162,488,772
Djibouti 26,957,902 27,108,322 0 0 0 27,108,322
Eritrea 6,262,668 5,913,217 0 0 0 5,913,217
Ethiopia 284,579,979 206,880,080 0 0 0 206,880,080
Ethiopia (Regional Liaison Office to the AU and ECA) 2,026,808 1,439,099 0 0 0 1,439,099
Kenya 256,912,030 244,547,315 371,416 0 0 244,918,731
Kenya Regional Support Hub 11,592,525 7,896,061 0 0 0 7,896,061
Somalia 69,887,454 24,681,892 0 13,096,330 41,543,354 79,321,576
Sudan 125,935,560 97,068,429 3,077,345 0 30,466,838 130,612,612
South Sudan 424,282,355 185,497,586 6,539,991 0 150,565,477 342,603,054
Uganda 209,932,147 178,044,200 20,000 3,050,000 0 181,114,200
Regional activities 9,403,169 10,711,350 0 0 0 10,711,350
Subtotal 1,652,732,707 1,151,685,265 10,599,810 16,146,330 222,575,669 1,401,007,074
Burundi 25,098,771 18,676,158 189,402 0 523,504 19,389,064
Cameroon 54,123,629 53,920,679 843,987 0 0 54,764,667
Central African Republic 72,995,171 11,204,357 0 0 40,211,532 51,415,889
Congo 35,144,967 35,341,593 0 0 0 35,341,593
Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Office[2] 216,361,233 99,881,583 2,696,775 38,546,652 75,174,531 216,299,541
Rwanda 51,859,332 43,089,569 0 80,776 0 43,170,345
United Republic of Tanzania 38,795,327 26,417,598 0 14,656,106 0 41,073,705
Subtotal 494,378,430 288,531,538 3,730,164 53,283,535 115,909,567 461,454,804
Angola 5,771,320 5,453,056 0 0 0 5,453,056
Botswana 5,045,678 4,191,907 0 0 0 4,191,907
Malawi 4,345,615 5,612,834 0 0 0 5,612,834
Mozambique 5,414,283 4,769,181 380,099 0 0 5,149,280
Namibia 3,952,101 546,748 0 0 0 546,748
South Africa Regional Office 26,678,041 26,298,812 971,936 0 0 27,270,748
Zambia 13,776,664 19,500,008 0 0 0 19,500,008
Zimbabwe 6,825,143 5,806,701 0 0 0 5,806,701
Subtotal 71,808,845 72,179,247 1,352,035 0 0 73,531,283

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update