Map of Middle East and North Africa Region
UNICEF photo: Girls sitting at school desks in a classroom © UNICEFIraq/2015/Anmar A UNICEF-supported school for Internally Displaced Persons in the Yahyawa IDP Camp in Kirkuk.

Middle East and North Africa

Regional Office 2016 Requirements: US$3,500,000

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The number and magnitude of humanitarian crises in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continue to expand to unprecedented proportions, and have triggered a child protection crisis of immense scale. Escalating conflicts in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen; refugee influxes to Jordan and Lebanon; the recent surge in violence in the State of Palestine; volatility in Libya; the protracted crisis in the Sudan; and the influx of refugees into Djibouti have created dire conditions for girls and boys in MENA. In Yemen, a staggering 10 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 500,000 children who may face life-threatening severe acute malnutrition (SAM).1 In Iraq, more than 3.2 million people are displaced,2 over 5,300 schools3 have been deemed unusable, and the number of documented grave violations against children has increased substantially. In countries affected by conflict, more than 13 million children are currently out of school.4 The violence and deteriorating conditions in many countries have propelled the largest population displacement since World War II. Millions of refugees are fleeing, and the scale often outpaces the available resources of humanitarian actors and governments.5 In addition to the ongoing violence, natural disasters and disease, including flooding in Tindouf, Algeria, cholera outbreaks in Iraq and measles outbreaks in the Sudan, are also significant cause for concern. Children continue to bear the brunt of the burden, robbed of their childhoods and forced to endure unspeakable violations, either through death and injury, forced recruitment into armed groups, interruption of education, malnutrition and/or loss of primary caregivers.

Regional humanitarian strategy

Given the increasing scale and complexity of crises in MENA, the Middle East and North Africa Regional Office (MENARO) will provide remote and direct technical support to strengthen humanitarian response and resilience programme approaches, ensure rapid scale up and contribute to enhanced results for children and their families. The Regional Office will also provide support to country offices, including the Syria Country Office and countries affected by the Syria crisis, to strengthen capacities and readiness to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, conflict and protracted crises. This will involve the roll out of the regional humanitarian learning strategy, which includes elements of innovation, knowledge management, policy and analysis. For countries affected by the Syria crisis, the Regional Office will also provide specific support on key features of the No Lost Generation initiative. The learning strategy includes training and support on operating in high-threat environments, measures taken to bridge humanitarian and development response through a resilience lens, and the inclusion of human rights and international legal obligations in humanitarian contexts. In addition to the learning strategy, MENARO will develop and disseminate best practices and lessons learned that can be applied to existing humanitarian situations, enhance the response and help ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency on the ground. This cross-fertilization of best practices has already been a part of regional support to country offices, and the ongoing large-scale, Level 3 emergencies in the region. The increasing complexity of humanitarian crises provide numerous learning opportunities that will continue to be shared and built upon. The development of a robust Regional Rapid Response Mechanism (RRRM), a roster of technical emergency experts, has accelerated the region’s human resources surge capacity in response to burgeoning crises. Currently there are 81 roster members, including 15 internal and 66 external candidates that specialize in key sectors and emergency coordination. The Regional Office will focus on the roll out of an emergency response training package for RRRM members to support their rapid deployment to country offices. Training topics will include: multi-cluster/sector rapid needs assessments; humanitarian programme monitoring; international humanitarian and human rights law; cluster and sector coordination in humanitarian contexts; women, safety and security training; first-aid training for frontline responders; armoured vehicle driver training; and mass casualty training.

Results in 2015

As of 31 October 2015, UNICEF had received 46 per cent (US$2.3 million6) of the US$5 million 2015 appeal, in addition to US$860,000 carried forward from 2014. Given the escalating magnitude of crises in the region, MENARO conducted 213 days of surge missions and technical support to Djibouti, Iraq, Libya, the Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as 53 days of missions for emergency preparedness training to eight country offices, including Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, the State of Palestine, Yemen and the Gulf area. These missions supported emergency coordination and the development of contingency plans, inputs for the UNICEF online preparedness Early Warning Early Action system and technical inputs to regional and in-country humanitarian plans and appeals. In coordination with Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection, the Regional Office conducted a series of webinars on international humanitarian law for more than 200 participants from UNICEF country offices in the region, as well as two in-country trainings. MENARO commissioned a study on risk, vulnerability and resilience in the Middle East and North Africa, which highlighted best practices in resilience among MENA countries. The Regional Office also prioritized a number of trainings that contribute to effective humanitarian action and access in high-threat environments in 2015, targeting UNICEF, other United Nations agencies and the humanitarian community. In support of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, UNICEF distributed school supplies to more than 32,000 primary and middle school pupils, supported the Ministry of Education to carry out assessments, and procured vaccines for more than 20,000 children and training midwives. In response to the destruction caused by heavy rains in October 2015, within three weeks, UNICEF7 had set-up temporary learning spaces to resume schooling for 6,500 children, as well as health care centres for up to 30,000 refugees.

Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$3.5 million to ensure that women and children are assisted during humanitarian crises and that emergency-prone countries are prepared for rapid responses and resilience building and reflects the support needed for the increasing number and scale of crises in the region. In addition, regional office funding may be used to respond to situations in the region that are not included in a separate chapter of Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 and may not benefit from inter-agency flash appeals to respond to small- or medium-sized emergencies. The funding requirement reflects the need to ensure that MENARO is able to support country offices preparing for emergencies and assisting populations affected by crisis.

Costs for regional support to the Syria crisis are included in the Humanitarian Action for Children appeal for Syrian refugees.

1 United Nations Radio, ‘News in Brief 16 October 2015’, UN Radio, 16 October 2015,, accessed 10 December 2015.
2 International Organization for Migration, Displacement Tracking Matrix Data Sheet, 22 October 2015.
3 UN News Centre, ‘Millions of children deprived of education in war-torn Iraq, says UNICEF’, 30 October 2015,, accessed 10 December 2015.
4 United Nations Children’s Fund, Education Under Fire: How conflict in the Middle East is depriving children of their schooling, 3 September 2015,, accessed 3 December 2015.
5 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Syria Regional Response Plan’, UNHCR, 2014.
6 This includes funding for Libya.
7 As of 16 November 2015, the only funding available for UNICEF’s emergency response is funding that is internal to UNICEF (Emergency Programme Funding totalling US$430,000).