Map of Middle East and North Africa Region
UNICEF photo: Iraq, May 2013. Children watch as water containers and buckets are being filled with water in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq. Provision of clean drinking water is one of UNICEF's priorities. © UNICEF/UKLA2013-00973/Schermbrucker Iraq, May 2013. Children watch as water containers and buckets are being filled with water in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq. Provision of clean drinking water is one of UNICEF's priorities.

Middle East and North Africa

Updated January 2014

2014 Requirements: US$2,500,000

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Violence, political instability, insecurity, poverty and deprivation have made 2013 a very difficult year for many children in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Over the past three years, the region has seen continued violence in Syria that has resulted in massive refugee outflows to the surrounding countries, as well as political transitions in Yemen and Tunisia, political uncertainty in Egypt, a nascent government in Libya, and protracted and unresolved crises in Sudan and the State of Palestine. The Saharawi refugee situation, which is entering its 38th year, is one of the most protracted refugee crises in the world, with refugees housed in five main camps near Tindouf, in southwest Algeria. In 2013, the escalation of violence in Syria had regional reverberations, including for those countries facing an influx of refugees. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey bore the brunt of the outflow, with the Executive Director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) declaring, ‘We have not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago’. Over four million Syrian children are now affected in Syria by the relentless violence,1 with an additional 1.1 million Syrian children now living as refugees in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.2 Children have experienced torture, detainment and injury as a result of the conflict. There is a very real risk of a lost generation of Syrian children that will grow up knowing only displacement, fighting and violence. Drought, food insecurity, unemployment, poverty, conflict, military operations, natural disasters and epidemics continue to impact the humanitarian needs of children and women in MENA. The response caseload seems poised to expand in the region as the frequency and complexity of humanitarian situations continues to increase.

Regional Office - Planned results for 2014

Results from 2013

UNICEF appealed for US$15.5 million for 2013, and as of 31 October 2013, a total of US$2,664,763, or 17 per cent of requirements, had been received in contributions.3 In 2013, in addition to boosting UNICEF capacity to respond to simultaneous emergencies, MENARO built the capacity of country offices to enhance and strengthen the capacity of UNICEF and partners in humanitarian action. Eighteen staff members and partners from seven emergency contexts were trained in multi-cluster/sector initial rapid assessment to facilitate stronger analysis and programme response to children’s needs during the initial phase of an emergency. Thirty new staff members in the Lebanon Country Office benefited from emergency training to strengthen their understanding of UNICEF procedures and planning in humanitarian and development contexts. In line with its global cluster obligations for WASH and nutrition, MENARO conducted a cluster coordination training for country offices, which will led to strengthened leadership in complex emergencies. Finally, MENARO provided staff members in Syria crisis countries with the opportunity to better understand humanitarian law and human rights obligations in conflict situations. A highlight in 2013 was the inter-agency simulation exercise conducted simultaneously in Tehran and Kerman with the Government of Iran. Throughout 2013, regional emergency staff members, including those located in the Syria crisis hub, provided surge support in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, to respond to the growing needs and assist the scale-up of operations in country and field offices, prioritizing and coordinating programme response and negotiating access for humanitarian aid. MENARO also supported Syria crisis countries to strengthen programme strategies, performance monitoring and contingency planning. MENARO provided technical advice remotely to other country offices in humanitarian contexts.

In 2014, the MENA Regional Office (MENARO) will continue to work with country offices to strengthen and improve systems and capacities for effective preparedness and response; to explicitly integrate humanitarian and development programming to promote resilience; and to enhance staff understanding of human rights obligations in humanitarian contexts. In addition, MENARO will establish a regional rapid response mechanism to strengthen human resource capacity. MENARO will also focus on enabling faster scale-up and better results in major humanitarian crises, including through early identification of priorities and strategies, rapid deployment of qualified staff and clear accountabilities. MENARO will strengthen the capacity of staff members and partners by enhancing the humanitarian learning strategy to facilitate knowledge and understanding of: multi-cluster/sector rapid needs assessments; international humanitarian and human rights obligations; and cluster and sector coordination in humanitarian contexts, including by fulfilling UNICEF responsibilities as cluster/sector lead or co-lead in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, education, child protection and gender-based violence. MENARO will continue to strengthen its support to the countries affected by the Syria crisis by providing direct technical advice and oversight through a dedicated Syria crisis hub. Sub-regional preparedness and contingency planning for a potential deterioration of the situation in Syria and in neighbouring countries will be prioritized, including through a regional contingency stockpile. Finally, MENARO will support country offices with surge support missions to facilitate enhanced and efficient humanitarian response.

Algeria - Saharawi refugees - Planned results for 2014

Results from 2013

In education, more than 30,000 children received school and recreation supplies, and 65 classrooms were rehabilitated, benefitting more than 6,000 children, half of whom were girls. Prolonged youth unemployment and the lack of appropriate economic opportunities has increased youth vulnerability and made it more likely that youth will engage in drugs, alcohol and other dangerous activities. UNICEF therefore initiated a project that will provide youth with critical life knowledge and skills related to avoiding harmful practices. Youth centres in each of the five refugee camps reached nearly 500 youths with sports materials, equipment and training. Quality of and access to vaccinations for children under 5 was enhanced through immunization training for more than 100 health personnel. This, as well as social mobilization activities and the procurement of 150,000 doses of vaccines, helped improve vaccination coverage and reached more than 25,000 children. Preventable deaths for mothers and infants were reduced through a project aimed at improving the skills and knowledge of midwives on monitoring pregnancies and facilitating safe deliveries. Additional instrumental interventions for mitigating risks related to maternal and infant mortality included remedying urgent gaps in medical equipment availability, supporting the resuscitation and survival of newborns and providing critical drugs to pregnant and lactating women.

With schools increasingly dilapidated in the five refugee camps, UNICEF will pursue a school rehabilitation programme specifically targeting those school buildings that represent a danger to children and teachers. This work will also aim to increase community mobilization on school maintenance to reach up to 10,000 children. UNICEF will continue to distribute school supplies and recreation kits to all of the 32,000 primary and middle school students to facilitate a smooth start to the 2014 academic year. The persisting instability in northern Mali makes the Saharawi youth increasingly vulnerable to engaging in harmful and violent behaviour. UNICEF will strengthen its support to five youth-friendly centres providing training in life skills. If funding permits, U-Report, an innovative new project, will be initiated to support youth participation through the use of new technologies. In addition, UNICEF will continue to provide critical vaccines to more than 30,000 Saharawi children. Targeted interventions in 2014 will also include continuous monitoring and additional training on cold chain management and immunization practices. Neonatal and maternal health care focusing on pregnancy and at-risk deliveries will be addressed through on-the-job training for midwives and the provision of essential drugs and medical equipment.

Funding requirements

UNICEF MENARO is requesting US$3,700,000 to assist women and children during emergency situations in the region, and to prepare emergency-prone countries to implement rapid, life-saving responses to disaster. The funding also reflects needs for the silent crisis of the Saharawi refugees in Tindouf Province, Algeria. In addition, regional funding may be used to respond to situations in the region that are not included in a separate chapter of Humanitarian Action for Children 2014 and may not benefit from inter-agency flash appeals to respond to small- or medium-sized emergencies. Funding requirements for regional support for the Syria crisis are reflected in the Humanitarian Action for Children 2014 chapters for Syria and Syrian Refugees.

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1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘2013 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Action Plan’, December 2013.
2 Registration figures reported by UNHCR for 14 November 2013.
3 Income and requirements for MENARO in 2013 include Iraq and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic.