Humanitarian Response

All Country Offices in MENA are empowered to deliver timely, equitable and principled humanitarian action

displaced man carries two children


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to face multiple and complex crises, conflicts, displacement and damage to vital health care, education and water infrastructure as well as natural disasters (drought, floods, earthquakes, etc.). With globally declared acute and protracted Level 3 emergencies in Syria, across the five countries hosting Syrian refugees, Iraq and Yemen, in addition to other ongoing emergencies in Libya, Sudan and the State of Palestine, there are about 70 million people in need of humanitarian assistance across the MENA region, including 27 million children. In addition, 50 million people in need live in conflict affected countries, including about 24 million children.

The needs of affected populations are increasing in scale and are aggravated by economic crises, chronic underdevelopment, natural disasters and diseases such as the cholera outbreaks in Iraq and Yemen and long-term drought in Djibouti. The conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic has given rise to serious protection concerns due to indiscriminate or targeted attacks and widespread violations of human rights by parties to the conflict. In Yemen, the nutrition crisis has put 385,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition and the collapse of the health system has increased the vulnerability of about 540,000 people to acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) or cholera. The complex emergency in Iraq, including the operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has increased displacement, with spill over into neighbouring countries that has compounded the burden on already stretched public services. More than 9 million people in Libya, the State of Palestine and the Sudan require humanitarian assistance


Across all MENA countries responding to humanitarian situations, the Humanitarian Team supports sector/cluster coordination, joint programming and programme delivery through technical assistance, quality assurance on preparedness, emergency coordination, resource mobilization, contributions management, humanitarian planning, performance monitoring, analysis and advocacy. Within the Whole of Syria (WoS) approach, the Regional Office supports coordination structures and manages cross-border operations.

In 2016, the Humanitarian Team ensured that COs are prepared for humanitarian situations and have capacity in place to provide a scaled-up response when required, with focused support provided to the L3 emergencies in the Syria crisis countries, Yemen and Iraq. In addition, UNICEF Regional Office staff have conducted over 760 days of surge missions to support country offices with humanitarian operations including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Djibouti and the State of Palestine. Furthermore, all COs completed preparedness plans and regional contingency stock supplies with a value of US$ 207,491 were dispatched from Amman warehouse to UNICEF Country Offices in Jordan, Sudan and Yemen for emergency response.

UNICEF colleagues supported by the Humanitarian Team have spent over 80 days on mission to support operations for the Syrian population stranded in the berm between Jordan and Syria on the north-east border of Jordan. The Humanitarian Team has supported other country offices in 2016 including providing surge support to Iraq to ensure that the response to the Mosul emergency was timely and at scale; supporting the Yemen office with communications capacity and capacity building of staff on humanitarian law and programmes; supporting Egypt on children on the move; and supporting the Djibouti office with management capacity. In addition, UNICEF has supported capacity-building of staff and partners across the region including on Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups, scaling-up immunization and Emergency Preparedness. Through the external communications team, regular information was provided on crises across MENA, and the WoS advocacy strategy updated.