• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 174,000 People displaced [?]



At least 173,600 Sahrawi refugees are living in five camps located in Tindouf province. Most refugees arrived since the escalation of the conflict in Western Sahara in 1975, or were born in the camps. 90,000 of them are considered particularly vulnerable by UNHCR due to their heavy reliance on humanitarian assistance to access food, water, education, and other necessities. Livelihood is constrained in the camps, located in a remote desert area where employment opportunities are almost non-existent. ?

A 2019 assessment reported that 60% of the Sahrawi households surveyed had a Food Consumption Score (FCS) deemed acceptable, while 42% of households only were provided with the recommended 20 litres of water per person per day.?

In May 2019, Algerian authorities decided to confiscate the Algerian passports of Sahrawi refugees that were used to travel abroad. This decision has caused protests in Tindouf refugee camps. ? The camps are also exposed to floods and sandstorms. ?


Latest developments


Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria’s Tindouf camps have lost over 1,700 livestock this year due to a pulmonary epidemic. Some families in the camps relied on the milk and meat from this livestock to supplement their diet. More than 50% of children and women of reproductive age in the camps suffer from anaemia, malnutrition (7.6%), or chronic malnutrition (28%). Food insecurity is also widespread among the Sahrawi refugee population (173,6000 people), with 30% food insecure and 58% vulnerable to food insecurity. Limited employment and livelihood opportunities have resulted in high dependency on aid for the majority of the refugees. Many refugees have lost their jobs and other sources of income due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Travel between the camps and to and from Tindouf town has only been possible since June.?

ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find more information related to the outbreak.

Key Priorities


Food: 30% of the refugee population is food insecure, while 58% is vulnerable to food insecurity.?

Livelihoods: The remote location of the camps and the limited access to resources constrain employment opportunities and render the refugees dependent on humanitarian activities. ?

Information Gaps and Needs

  • The data on Sahrawi refugees has not been updated since 2017 and only captures the refugees living inside the camp. There is no information on the out-of-camp population.
  • Systematic, publicly available, multi-sectoral assessments of humanitarian needs are lacking. Political considerations have interfered with the accurate reporting of the number of Sahrawi refugees in the camps.?

COVID-19 Outbreak


15,941 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 952 deaths have been reported as of 06 July countrywide. As of 22 May at least 14 COVID-19 cases were reported in Tindouf town, but none in the Sahrawi refugee camps in the same province. The refugee camps and their 173,600 inhabitants have been in lockdown, with camp schools closed, since mid March. Humanitarian agencies still manage to deliver essential aid to the communities, while pausing all non-essential operations. As day labourers and taxi drivers can no longer work and livelihood programmes have come to a halt the income and food security levels of several households are threatened. Shortages of disinfection materials and PPE have been reported. The Government of Algeria included Sahrawi refugees in its national response plan. Response has included sensitisation campaigns targeting the camps, provision of medical material, and a referral system for suspected cases.?