Tunisia + 2 more

UNHCR Tunisia Operational Update - 31 January 2020


Key figures

3,746 Persons of Concern to UNHCR

457 Newly registered asylum-seekers and refugees in January 2020

64% of people who arrived in Tunisia in 2019 as part of mixed population movements expressed intention to seek asylum in Tunisia


As UNHCR started its new programming year, partnership agreements were renewed with the Tunisian Refugee Council (CTR), the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) and the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), covering the full spectrum of protection, assistance, advocacy and capacity-building activities. Building on 2019 efforts and lessons learned, UNHCR’s 2020 strategic response will be geared towards consolidating last year’s achievements and expanding refugees and asylum seekers’ access to livelihood opportunities as well as to basic social services such as health, education and food. The 2020 programme will be implemented together with government and civil society entities and in line with the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees.

Despite political efforts and commitments to resolve the conflict in Libya, civilians continued to suffer the brunt of hostilities in and around Tripoli, prompting the Tunisian authorities - jointly with UNHCR and IOM - to intensify emergency preparedness actions including the activation of joint sectoral working groups, gathering UN agencies, NGOs and relevant ministerial counterparts. UNHCR continued as well to monitor the situation along the border with Libya. UNHCR’s contacts at Tunisian border crossings suggested that the number of new arrivals had not changed from the usual number of individuals and families entering Tunisia.

On bilateral side, UNHCR continued to meet with major diplomatic and donor representations, like US, France, Italy, Kuwait and Switzerland among others, in order to strengthen collaboration in support to those in need of international protection and assistance.

Operational Response

UNHCR launched an intensive registration exercise in order to reduce backlog (1,600 individuals) and thus shorten waiting time for refugees and asylum seekers. The exercise will continue for three months and will also allow identification of individuals with specific needs and appropriate follow-up. During January, more than 450 individuals were registered, equal to one fourth of the total registrations of 2019.

Together with partner AIHR, UNHCR launched an online platform on asylum in Tunisia. It aims to address the data and information gaps for Arabic-speaking audiences on scholarly, legal and advocacy work available on refugee protection in the country. The portal targets those interested in asylum issues, including researchers, journalists, legal specialists and practitioners. The first of its kind, the platform is intended for use as a monitoring tool to keep track of good practices in media coverage of asylum issues.

As part of UNHCR’s self-reliance programme, a fresh fruits and vegetables business was inaugurated in Sfax at the end of January. Born from the successful partnership between a Syrian refugee and a young Tunisian businessman, the initiative will continue to be monitored by UNHCR and partner TAMSS.