Middle East and North Africa: Humanitarian Access Snapshot (October 2018) [EN/AR]

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 18 Nov 2018


Lack of humanitarian access continues to be a key challenge for the humanitarian community working in Libya. The main access constraints are caused by the periodic clashes among armed groups, which make it challenging for national and local institutions and international organizations to provide protection and basic services to those in need. The presence of explosive hazards, including landmines, improvised explosive devices, unexploded ordnances and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), are another concern. Attacks on health care facilities and medical personnel continue to be a protection concern across the country. Limited access to services for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya remains another worrying factor in Libya’s situation.

The provision of access to those living in conflict-affected or hard-to-reach areas remains extremely limited. This is the case with the renewed armed clashed in Tripoli on 21 September, where more than 120 people were killed, with another 600 injured; the clashes began in late August. Fighting is taking place in residential areas, with civilian casualties reported. The humanitarian community faced challenges in obtaining access to deliver emergency health equipment and trauma kits, especially with the closure of Mitiga International Airport.

occupied Palestinian territory

Access restrictions to, from and within the oPt continue to undermine the ability of humanitarian actors to reach people in need, as well as the ability of vulnerable groups to access assistance, protection and essential services.

The vast majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are not eligible for exit permits through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, regardless of their individual security profile. This policy continues to isolate the people of Gaza from the remainder of the oPt and the outside world, limiting access to medical treatment, higher education, family life, employment and economic opportunities. While staff of international organizations are eligible for exit permits, many applications are rejected citing security concerns. Despite the re-opening of the Egypt-controlled Rafah crossing in May 2018, thousands are still registered on a waiting list, unable to leave, with increasing complaints about unclear criteria and challenging crossing procedures.

Palestinian movement within the West Bank continues to be limited by a broad system of restrictions that contribute to geographical fragmentation. This system includes the roadblocks and checkpoints, the Barrier and its permit system, and the designation of large areas as ‘closed military zones’, among other measures. The latest closure survey, conducted in July 2018 by OCHA oPt, recorded a total of 705 permanent obstacles, three per cent higher than in December 2016. Access of UN staff through checkpoints is challenged by the lack of respect to the UN privileges and immunities

The United Nations continues to work on sustainable access strategies for the movement of humanitarian and development personnel and goods through its Access Coordination Unit in the oPt.


Despite the difficult operation environment, humanitarian partners in Yemen continue to reach millions of people. Obstacles faced by humanitarian personnel include the ongoing conflict, restrictions and bureaucratic impediments that delay movements and the detention of staff and supplies. The other main reason for deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen is the depreciation of the Yemeni rial over recent months.

The escalations of conflict within the Hudaydah government since June 2018, and the restriction of humanitarian access have further deepened the suffering of the Yemeni people in the city. Humanitarian warehouses in areas of active conflict remain difficult to access and have reportedly been targeted. These increased access difficulties have caused partners to consider relocating supplies away from warehouses close to the frontlines. While families continue to be trapped by fighting in Hudaydah city, tens of other families are trapped in zones of active fighting in Ad Durayhimi District and are in dire humanitarian need.


As of July 2018, there were an estimated 1.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in hard-to-reach areas, and for the first time in more than 5 years, no UN-declared besieged communities. The number of people in need in hard-to-reach areas marked a significant decrease from earlier in the year, illustrating improved access for humanitarian partners in parts of Syria, notably in the north east. However, humanitarian access in many parts of Syria continued to be challenging due to a number of constraints, notably hostilities, insecurity as well as administrative restrictions. Following military operations in the south, which led to full control of the area by the Government of Syria, UN cross-border operations from Jordan were suspended in late June.


While the humanitarian community continues to face some challenges with regards to obtaining access to certain parts of the country due to government-imposed bureaucratic impediments, it was able to expand its overall operational presence, including into some newly accessible areas. More than 2.2 million (approximately 65 per cent) of 3.4 million people targeted under the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Iraq were reached in the first nine months of 2018.

Despite the overall scale of returns—4 million people as of September 2018—more than 1.9 million remain displaced from their areas of origin. Of these internally displaced persons (IDPs), more than 70 per cent reside outside formal IDP camps. While humanitarians are able to reach around 95 per cent of in-camp IDPs, they reach only 10 per cent of people outside of camp settings.

In addition to the indicated access concerns, unmet funding requirements have delayed the start of several key humanitarian projects. As of 30 September, approximately $341m out of $569m in requested HRP funding had been received (60 per cent).

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.