UNHCR in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Who is UNHCR:

UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, was established in 1950 by the world community to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who were forced to flee their country to find refuge from war and persecution. UNHCR works with government and non-government partners around the world to assist and protect refugees including the right to seek asylum and seeking lasting solutions. Protection of refugees however is the primary responsibility of the state where refugees live.

UNHCR provides protection services in close cooperation and coordination with the government of KSA and partners.

Who falls under UNHCR’s mandate?

UNHCR’s mandate covers refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people and returnees.

What are UNHCR’s activities in KSA?


Protection against forced deportation applies only to Persons of Concern falling under the UNHCR mandate (as described above).

This includes carrying out necessary protection interventions to halt forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to countries or territories where their safety/ freedom is at risk; and ensure access to asylum for asylum seekers to practice basic right of asylum.


UNHCR advocates and works with national institutions to improve living conditions of persons of concern in KSA. Such improvements can be linked to policies in relation to legal rights of refugees, in addition to social and economic rights.


The services provided by UNHCR may differ from one country to another due to several considerations, including the situation in the host country. The UNHCR office in Saudi Arabia does not provide direct or regular assistance. UNHCR provides, on a very limited scale, medical services, legal advice, or cash assistance, only after the competent committee studies and assesses the situation and circumstances on case by case basis, the committee takes an appropriate decision in line with procedural standards.

Regarding the medical services, in extremely limited circumstances and due to the lack of resources, UNHCR can assist limited number of urgent medical cases by referring them to one of its medical partners to have treatment for a specific period of time. Individuals with immediate life-threatening emergency medical conditions, are strongly advised to go to the nearest hospital, as UNHCR does not have the capacity to handle such cases. UNHCR also cannot assist the cases with chronic diseases that require regular and longtime treatment.


Some immigration countries stipulate part of procedures to be eligible for private sponsorship/immigration programs, to provide UNHCR refugee certificate. UNHCR is currently in process of verifying the procedures with some of these immigration countries. Therefore, currently, UNHCR Office in KSA does not have the capacity to register applicants for that purpose.

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