An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Algeria.


An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Algeria.

Women at work in a bakery, part of a UNHCR-supported livelihood programme for refugees in Tindouf, Algeria. Refugees that have been in the camp since 1975, although living in vulnerable conditions, have access to public services, roads and elecricity.

Content of this page:
1. Description of the refugee situation
2. Algeria's response to the refugee situation
3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact

1. Description of refugee situation

Where does the population of concern live?

Both in camps and in urban settings.

Population of concern

  • Refugees of Western Sahara - Location : Camps (Tindouf province) 
  • Refugees and asylum-seekers living in urban areas - Figures* : More than 10,000

* as of November 2019

Find live data, information and fact sheets on the refugee situation in Algeria on the UNHCR Operational Portal as well as Global Focus

2. Algeria's response to the refugee situation

An overview of how the Government has structured its ability to respond to the refugee situation, with the support of partners.

UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, and around 18 NGOs work with the Sahrawi refugee leadership and community in the camps. The three agencies work closely with the Sahrawi Red Crescent, Sahrawi authorities, and civil society across the five refugee camps, using a participatory approach where communities in the camp manage the camp themselves. The Government of Algeria and the Algerian Red Crescent, which is an Algerian humanitarian volunteer organization founded in 1956, are the UN agencies’ direct humanitarian counterpart.

The Sahrawi refugee community has managed five camps near Tindouf over more than four decades. Refugees implement their own activities, manage their own partnerships, and advocate for resources domestically and internationally. In Tindouf, UNHCR leads inter-agency efforts to support the Sahrawi refugee programme in close coordination with WFP (food assistance and resilience) and UNICEF (health, education and child protection). UNHCR leads monthly sector coordination meetings for the Protection, Livelihood, WASH and Health sectors, in coordination with the Sahrawi refugee community, as well as participating in the Education and Food sector coordination meetings. The three agencies are also members of the Area Security Management Team (ASMT), led by UN mission MINURSO, which meets on a monthly basis.

Partners involved:

  • Govt. of Algeria: Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Office for Refugees and Stateless Persons (Bureau Algérien pour les Réfugiés et les Apatrides - BAPRA)
  • All relevant Sahrawi authorities, institutions and departments
  • UN Agencies: UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP
  • Algerian Red Crescent (ARC)
  • Association des Femmes Algériennes pour le Développement (AFAD)
  • Asociación de Trabajadores y Técnicos sin Fronteras (ATTSF)
  • Caritas Algérie
  • Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
  • Humanité et Inclusion (HI) – working in Algiers and Tindouf
  • Enfants Refugiés du Monde (ERM)
  • Green Tea Association – working in Algiers
  • Media Luna Roja Saharaui (MLRS) aka Sahrawi Red Crescent (SRC)
  • Movement for Peace, Disarmament & Liberty (MPDL)
  • Réseau algérien pour la défense des droits de l'enfant (NADA) – working in Algiers
  • Rencontre et développement - working in Algiers
  • Solidaridad Internacional Andalucía (SI-A)
  • Triangle Génération Humanitaire (TGH)
  • Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (UAM)
  • Agence Espagnole de coopération Internationale (AECID)
  • Bureau de l’Aide Humanitaire et de la Protection Civile de la Commission européenne (ECHO)
  • Centre des Etudes Rurales et L' Agriculture International (CERAI)
  • Comité Internationale pour le Développement des Peuple (CISP)
  • Croix Rouge Espagnol (CRE)
  • Médicos Del Mundo (MDM)
  • Oxfam
  • Mundubat

Which partnerships have been strengthened or have been made possible thanks to the implementation of the Global Compact of Refugees?

In Tindouf, the community-managed system has allowed for effective and efficient use of resources through volunteerism, promoting age, gender and diversity goals of participation and gender equality, all of which are in the spirit of building an equal partnership with the refugee community. The three UN humanitarian agencies active in the camps, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP, continue to work closely together and with nearly 20 humanitarian organizations operating in the context. All agencies, organizations and associations coordinate all programmes with the Sahrawi leadership and refugee community, at all levels. There are sectoral working groups in the Health, WASH, Protection, Livelihoods, Food and Education sectors, led or co-led by UN agencies and/or the relevant Sahrawi refugee community departments. UNHCR leads both the Inter-Sectoral Working Group established to connect response leaders with sector coordinators, and the Inter-Agency Working Group – the coordination body at the strategic, guiding level.

3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact

Here’s a summary of how partnerships working in education, livelihoods, health and social inclusion have already transformed the lives of refugees and their hosts. 

A model of self-managed community to ease pressure on the host community (objective 1 of the GCR): A unique feature of this protracted situation is the level of community-managed activities, with the refugee community playing the major role in the provision of humanitarian services and leading the camp management. The Sahrawi refugee experience showcases the ability of a refugee community to effectively manage the delivery of humanitarian services and camp management over a long period of time. The community structures are utilised by the humanitarian agencies across the programming cycle, including assesing the needs of the refugee community, joint planning with the refugee leadership bodies, and implementing via the camp management structure who lead distributions and manage most basic services. This community-based structure of camp management provides an important opportunity to develop the communities’ leadership, advocacy, human rights, peace education and project management skills. The community-managed system has allowed for effective and efficient use of resources through volunteerism, promoting goals of participation taking into account age, gender and diversity,, in the spirit of building an equal partnership with the refugee community. Notably, the host country provides free education and support costs for thousands of intermediate, secondary and university students studying outside the camps, in Algeria.

In working to develop livelihood opportunities for refugees (objective 2 of the GCR): UNHCR’s livelihoods strategy focuses on developing livelihoods capabilities, assets and activities for small enterprise development and employment. The refugee response, through UNHCR, supports a soap factory, sewing workshops, vocational training centres, artisanal production workshops, a business innovation centre, and the rehabilitation of various bakeries. Partners and UNHCR are also providing 30 business grants, coaching and business skills training to over 500 Sahrawi youth, a blended course on entrepreneurship for 30 Sahrawi youth, and training for 36 female teachers in school management and educational guidance. Around 150 small business projects were established and/or supported in partnership with Oxfam and DRC over the last four years. WFP has initiated two promising low-tech food resilience activities to enhance skills in food security related several areas. Some 250 hydroponics units are producing fodder in all camps (a family kit produces over 15 kg daily, feeding five goats). The production of green animal fodder aims to improve milk and meat production and reduce households’ livestock’s mortality. Furthermore, step-by-step training material was developed and an impact study is being carried out. A fish farm has been built to provide refugees with access to locally farmed fish and animal protein and serve as a training centre to replicate smaller community level farms.

In urban areas, UNHCR and partners facilitate access of refugees to vocational trainings, supporting equal access of women and girls, but also strengthening individuals' skills through different levels of trainings. Thanks to efforts made of the Réseau algérien pour la défense des droits de l'enfant (NADA) and UNHCR, refugees were formally given access to public vocational training centers in 2018, allowing for a larger number of refugees to be enrolled in vocational trainings in 2019. Additionally, UNHCR supports refugee self-reliance projects. Through the DAFI programme, UNHCR has assisted 36 refugee students to attend universities in 2019, which serves as a foundation for professional development, allowing them to build careers in competitive fields of employment.

In seeking to meet objective 3 of the GCR (to expand access to third country solutions): For refugees living in urban areas (mainly Algiers), UNHCR uses resettlement as a protection tool and durable solution for vulnerable cases. Resettlement targets have increased in the last two years. In 2019, 105 refugees departed Algeria for resettlement to third countries, mainly to Canada, but also to the US, Sweden, and Norway. UNHCR also facilitates complementary pathways, such as family reunification, whenever possible.

Pledges and contributions made by Algeria


Pledges and contributions dashboard  (interactive by Area of Focus)

This dashboard includes all pledges and contributions made towards the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees in Algeria, including national pledges made by the Government of Algeria itself.

> See more good practice projects and initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa region