UNICEF Saharawi Refugee Camps - Tindouf, Algeria, Humanitarian SitRep No. 7, 17 December 2015

from UN Children's Fund
Published on 17 Dec 2015


  • The Italian head of emergency and humanitarian aid visited the Saharawi refugee camps on 8 December during a mission jointly organized by UNICEF and WFP.

  • The pledge from the Italian government of Euros 500,000 has been granted, with Euros 250,000 earmarked for UNICEF’s response to the flood emergency, with a focus on rehabilitation.

  • UNICEF and Handicap International reviewed the emergency response in child protection.

An Overview of the flood emergency and UNICEF’s Response in 2015

The emergency

On 18 October 2015, heavy rains started falling uninterruptedly for over a week on the Saharawi refugee camps in the region of Tindouf, causing an unprecedented emergency. After a series of continuous damage assessments, the estimate is that the emergency affected 11,500 families and cause damage to 30% of both health and educational infrastructures, and more than 50% of the corresponding supplies. At the onset of the emergency, as many as 6,500 children were left without access to school, and approximately 30,000 people without access to primary health care. The destruction of existing centers for children with disabilities also left as many as 300 disabled children without appropriate support. The delivery of basic services was further limited due to the logistical challenges linked to reaching the refugee camps, as major connecting roads were blocked by flood water.

The Response

UNICEF promptly activated an emergency response focused on resuming basic services in terms of health care, education, and protection with a focus on womenr and children. A chartered plane carrying the essential supplies for the implementation of the response reached Tindouf on 4 November with 50,000kg worth of supplies including emergency tents, health kits, and schooling supplies to set-up and equip temporary learning spaces, health care centers, and centers for children with disabilities.
Within a month since the onset of the emergency, affected children started going back to school and to benefit from primary emergency health care while their mothers could deliver in safety. Child Friendly Spaces and temporary centers for children with disabilities were also set-up to allow disabled children to receive adequate support, psychosocial care and counseling. As of December 2015, all planned emergency learning spaces and child friendly spaces for disabled children have been erected, in addition to emergency health centers. This has been accompanied by supporting activities such as a Back to school campaign, distribution of schooling supplies, and training of health personnel around maternal and neonatal health.


The implementation of UNICEF’s emergency response required continuous coordination and collaboration with other UN agencies, civil society organizations, and local authorities. The Saharawi Red Crescent played a crucial role in the discharging and storage of UNICEF’s chartered, and UNICEF’s main implementing partners were the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Affairs, with support provided by NGOs Triangle, CISP, and Handicap International (HI). In mid-December, HI and UNICEF held a meeting to review their first partnership for child protection in the context of the flood emergency and identified bottlenecks including the access and transportation issues for children with disabilities, technical assistance in psycho-social activities, the continuity of services at community and household levels, and staff training. This analysis will function as a basis for future action and potential further collaboration.

Resource Mobilization

UNICEF contributed to the UN Flash Appeal of US$ 19.8 million of which 1.7 million for UNICEF’s response, and the submission of a CERF proposal. UNICEF’s Goodwill ambassadors visited the refugee camps between 29 November and 1 December to maximize the visibility of UNICEF’s response and support fundraising efforts. UNICEF and WFP also organized a field visit of the Italian head of emergency and humanitarian aid , to jointly assess the humanitarian situation and support UNICEF’s emergency response in education and health.

As of December 2015, UNICEF Algeria received donor funding support from the US Government (USD 425,000), CERF (USD 300,000) and a firm pledge from the Italian Government € 500,000 Euros out of which € 250,000 Euros are allocated to emergency rehabilitation).

Future challenges

UNICEF’s immediate response to the flood emergency has brought back basic services in education, health, and protection for affected Saharawi children and mothers. These services, however, remain temporary. To progressively allow Saharawi refugee children to benefit from quality services within safe structures that are tailored to their needs, UNICEF is working towards rehabilitating some of the damaged infrastructures, including schools, kindergartens, and health centers on the basis for a Build Back Better approach. Rehabilitation thus remains the focus for UNICEF’s emergency response in 2016. Additionally, the current analysis of the programme response outlines that the improvement of child protection services in terms of quality, accessibility, and coordination emerges as significant issues for future consideration. Lastly, passed the momentum of the immediate emergency, fundraising will remain critical in the context of a prolonged refugee crisis affected by an increasing donor fatigue.