Globally, in 2020 UNHCR delivered $695 million in cash assistance, out of which over 55% - or $384.5 million – was in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Between January and June of 2021, UNHCR commissioned a review and mapping of UNHCR’s cash assistance contribution to protection outcomes in the 16 operations in the MENA region currently delivering cash assistance.
The review targeted UNHCR cash assistance programming for basic needs and for individuals with heightened protection risks, explored the role of protection vulnerabilities in different targeting modalities for cash assistance as well as the prevalence of referrals among UNHCR protection services and cash assistance.
The review relied on an extensive desk review of available data and literature, as well as multiple rounds of interviews with UNHCR staff from the field, Headquarters and UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for MENA.
Cash assistance in MENA
In 2020, 161$ UNHCR country operations in the MENA region distributed some $384.5 million in cash assistance, including $68.5 million for winterization. Globally, 6 of the 10 largest UNHCR cash operations are in the MENA region4 . The targeted population varied considerably across countries - e.g. 9,000 cash recipients in Morocco, to 206 in Kuwait, and 1.2 million in Yemen. The countries with the largest population of concern were also those spending the most on cash assistance: $110 million in Jordan, $88 million in Lebanon and $58 million in Yemen. Most of the cash assistance was delivered without restrictions, empowering people of concern in choosing how to use their assistance to meet their needs.