2013 UNHCR country operations profile - Mauritania
The conflict that erupted in northern Mali in January 2012 resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Malians within the country and across its borders. By the end of August 2012, more than 100,000 Malians, mostly Tuaregs, had sought refuge in Mauritania, while the influx continued at a rate of several hundred arrivals per day. In coordination with the Mauritanian Government, UNHCR set up a refugee camp, 60 kilometres from the border, in Mbera, and established a presence in the village of Bassikounou.
Mauritania is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol and is developing a national asylum system with UNHCR's assistance. As part of this process, a draft asylum law was finalized in 2011 and submitted for eventual adoption by Parliament in 2012. At the end of August 2012, UNHCR had registered 432 refugees and 428 asylum-seekers living in urban areas, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, 26,000 Sahrawis are considered to have a refugee-like status. They do not approach UNHCR as they are well integrated in Mauritania.
By March 2012, when the voluntary repatriation of Mauritanian refugees in Senegal was completed, over 24,000 refugees had come home since the start of the operation in January 2008. The returnees will benefit from UNHCR's reintegration activities in the areas of return until December 2012. There are also more than 12,000 Mauritanian refugees registered in Mali, of whom some 8,000 have expressed the wish to return.
UNHCR and its partners struggle to maintain minimum humanitarian standards in Mbera Camp. Critical needs remain in the areas of shelter, water, sanitation, health, nutrition and education. Indeed, more than 50 per cent of the refugee population in the camp do not have adequate shelter. Refugees receive less than 10 litres of water per person per day (the minimum standard is 20 litres), while the lack of enough latrines generates the risk of disease. Moreover, high rates of severe and moderate malnutrition in the camp jeopardize the health of the most vulnerable refugees, such as pregnant women and young children. Finally, more than 80 per cent of school-aged children do not have access to primary education due to the lack of classrooms.
In the absence of a national asylum system, UNHCR continues to advocate for the delivery of documentation to urban refugees, as well as the issuance of birth certificates for refugee children, both of which remain problematic. Owing to limited employment opportunities, the most vulnerable urban refugees face difficulties in becoming self-reliant. As a consequence, UNHCR must continue to support income-generation activities and provide housing, medical care and education assistance.
|UNHCR 2013 planning figures for Mauritania|
|TYPE OF POPULATION||ORIGIN||JAN 2013||DEC 2013|
|TOTAL IN COUNTRY||OF WHOM ASSISTED
|TOTAL IN COUNTRY||OF WHOM ASSISTED
|Persons in refugee-like situations||Western Sahara||26,000||26,000||26,000||26,000|
Main objectives and targets for 2013
Favourable protection environment
Law and policy are developed or maintained.
A national asylum law consistent with international standards is adopted.
Seven meetings, workshops and seminars are organized.
Fair protection processes and documentation
The quality of registration and profiling is improved or maintained.
Some 80,000 Malian refugees are registered on an individual basis with a minimum set of required data.
Civil-registration and civil-status documentation is strengthened.
Some 20 per cent of urban refugee children less than a year old are issued birth certificates by the authorities.
Security from violence and exploitation
The risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is reduced and the quality of the response to it is improved.
Standard operating procedures and a plan of action to address SGBV are established in Mbera Camp.
All known SGBV survivors are counselled and receive support.
Basic needs and essential services
Shelter and infrastructure are established, improved and maintained.
All households in the camp live in adequate dwellings.
Some 90 per cent of households in urban areas live in satisfactory dwellings.
All female-headed households of Mauritanian returnees live in adequate dwellings.
The health of the population is improved.
The under-5 mortality rate in the camp is reduced to 1/1,000/month.
The supply of potable water is increased or maintained.
The availability of potable water in the camp is increased to 20 litres per person per day.
Refugees have access to education.
All Malian refugee children aged 6-13 are enrolled in primary education.
All refugee children in urban areas aged 6-13 are enrolled in primary education.
The potential for integration is realized.
All people of concern in urban areas opting for local integration are locally integrated.
The potential for resettlement is realized.
11 cases, including women and girls at risk, are identified and resettled.
The potential for voluntary return is realized.
All people of concern in urban areas who wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin are assisted to do so.
Some 8,000 Mauritanian refugees return voluntarily from Mali in safety and dignity.
Strategy and activities in 2013
In 2013, UNHCR will continue to manage Mbera Camp and provide Malian refugees with protection (including registration and identification of people with specific needs), as well as basic assistance in the areas of shelter, water, sanitation, health, nutrition and education. The assistance will continue to benefit the host communities as well, particularly with regard to water.
An individual registration exercise, conducted between September and October 2012, will help to verify the number of refugees registered and capture more detailed information on each member of a household.
As part of its efforts to assist the Government with the establishment of a national asylum system, UNHCR will work to strengthen institutional and procedural capacity by providing the necessary technical expertise, training and advice to the authorities. Pending the adoption of the asylum law, the Office will carry out registration and refugee status determination (RSD) and provide protection and counselling services to urban refugees and asylum-seekers.
UNHCR will also support assistance programmes that enable people of concern to have access to basic social services and achieve self-sufficiency.
Voluntary repatriation from Mali will be considered once conditions permit. Should a tripartite agreement between UNHCR and the Governments of Mauritania and Mali be signed in 2013, UNHCR will support the voluntary repatriation of Mauritanian refugees from Mali.
The delivery of humanitarian aid remains extremely challenging in the remote desert region of Hodh el Charghi, where Mbera camp is located. Infrastructure and basic services are limited. Moreover, banditry and threats of kidnapping in the area add to restrictions on humanitarian access. Finally, refugees and host communities are affected by the scarcity of natural resources, coupled with food insecurity.
Organization and implementation
UNHCR maintains close working relations with the Ministry of Interior and Decentralization (MIDEC). It also participates in the UN Country Team and works with a range of implementing and operational partners. At the request of the Mauritanian Government, UNHCR coordinates the response to the Malian refugee situation, in close collaboration with a national counterpart and a follow-up committee appointed by the authorities. Regular coordination meetings are held in Nouakchott and Bassikounou with the authorities, UN agencies, NGOs and national civil-society partners.
During the course of 2012, Mauritania's financial requirements, initially amounting to USD 7.8 million increased as a result of the establishment of a Supplementary Budget for the Mali Situation. For 2013, the needs for the Malian refugee situation are included in the Comprehensive Budget, which totals USD 28 million.
Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2013 Update
UNHCR contact information
|UNHCR Represenatation UNHCR in Mauritania|
|Style of Address||Le Chef de Mission en Mauritanie|
|Street Address||Ilot k No. 143 route de la corniche
|Mailing Address||BP:4405 Ilot K No. 143 Route de la corniche- Nouakchott|
|Telephone||+222 5293510/ +222 5257415|
|Time Zone||GMT + 0:00|
|Public Holidays||1 janvier jour de l'an
fete du travail
Fete Id el vitr
Lendemain de korite
Id el Adha
Lendemain de Id el Adha
Fete nouvel an Musulman