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2015 UNHCR country operations profile - Mauritania

| Overview |

Working environment

UNHCR 2015 Mauritania country operations map

  • In 2015, UNHCR will protect and assist some 48,000 people of concern in Mbera camp, located some 50 km from the Malian border in a remote, arid and poor area.

  • Mauritania is party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and is developing a national asylum system, with UNHCR's assistance.

  • The Government provides land for Mbera camp and security for Malian refugees and humanitarian workers. It facilitates access to basic services for urban refugees.

  • In the absence of a national asylum system, UNHCR conducts registration and refugee status determination (RSD); works to strengthen the asylum capacity of national authorities; provides assistance targeting refugees with specific needs; and seeks durable solutions for refugees.

  • The situation in northern Mali remains fragile, preventing mass returns of refugees residing in Mauritania. While there were more than 2,000 spontaneous returns in 2013, the first half of 2014 witnessed just 418. Consultations with the refugees indicated that the majority remain opposed to return until certain conditions are met.

  • Verification and biometric registration in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou revealed there were 523 refugees and 687 asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR at the end of August 2014. In addition, some 26,000 Sahrawi people were considered to be in a refugee-like situation. They have not approached UNHCR as they are well integrated in Mauritania.

People of concern

The main people of concern to UNHCR are the Malian refugees settled in Mbera camp, as well as urban refugees and asylum-seekers who are mostly from sub-Saharan African countries and reside in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. Should conditions allow for their individual return, Mauritanian returnees from Senegal have also been identified by UNHCR as potential people of concern.

UNHCR 2015 planning figures for Mauritania
Type of population Origin January 2015 December 2015
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total 75,120 49,120 71,110 45,110
Refugees Dem. Rep. of the Congo 100 100 120 120
Côte d'Ivoire 300 300 350 350
Mali 48,000 48,000 36,000 36,000
Various 200 200 270 270
People in refugee-like situations Western Sahara 26,000 - 26,000 -
Asylum-seekers Dem. Rep. of the Congo 60 60 50 50
Côte d'Ivoire 350 350 200 200
Syrian Arab Rep. 30 30 40 40
Various 80 80 80 80
Returnee arrivals during year (ex-refugees) Mauritania - - 8,000 8,000

| Response |

Needs and strategies

The situation in northern Mali remains fragile and is unlikely to allow a large-scale return of Malian refugees residing in Mauritania in the short to medium term. UNHCR and its partners will therefore continue to maintain a humanitarian response for some 48,000 Malian refugees in Mbera camp.

The camp now has basic infrastructure and refugees can access essential services, such as health, water, sanitation and education.

In 2015, UNHCR and partners will continue covering refugees' essential protection and assistance needs. Emphasis will be put on strengthening Malian refugees' self-reliance and improving their social and economic well-being, by investing more in education, vocational training and livelihood support.

Efforts to promote peaceful coexistence between the refugees and host population will be enhanced and UNHCR will implement community-based projects in refugee areas. Awareness sessions between refugee and host-community leaders will encourage dialogue and promote non-violent conflict management and resolution.

The volatile security situation in northern Mali requires emergency preparedness measures to ensure a rapid response to any new refugee influx.

Since the establishment of biometric registration in Mbera camp in April 2013, efforts have been ongoing to effectively manage refugee data. In 2015, UNHCR will continue to regularly update its database, to provide accurate population data, and produce disaggregated refugee population statistics. This will help to adapt humanitarian interventions to refugees' needs and to target activities at the most vulnerable.

To protect and assist urban refugees and asylum-seekers, UNHCR will continue to advocate the adoption of a national asylum law and the provision of civil status documentation for refugees, particularly birth certificates for refugee children born in Mauritania. The Office will continue to conduct registration and RSD, while building the authorities' capacity to deal with asylum issues.

Given urban refugees' difficult social and economic conditions, UNHCR will continue covering their basic necessities, focusing on individuals with specific needs.

In parallel, it will scale up activities, such as literacy classes, vocational training and micro-finance projects, while a durable solution is sought.

Some 13,000 Mauritanian refugees who did not join the voluntary repatriation operation completed in March 2012 are registered in Senegal. Of these, some 700 have expressed the wish to return to Mauritania. Once an agreement on the future of Mauritanian refugees in Senegal is reached with Mauritanian and Senegalese authorities, UNHCR will help facilitate individual returns.

| Implementation |


At the request of the Mauritanian Government, UNHCR coordinates the humanitarian response to the Malian refugee situation, in close collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and Decentralization and a follow-up committee appointed by the authorities.

It also participates in the UN Country Team and Humanitarian Country Team, and works with UN agencies such as OCHA, UNICEF and WFP, as well as national and international NGOs. Regular coordination meetings are held in Nouakchott and Bassikounou.

In 2015, UNHCR will work with the Educate A Child initiative to provide primary education to Malian refugee children in Mbera camp.

2015 UNHCR partners in Mauritania
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Agence nationale du registre des populations et des titres sécurisés, Commission for Food Security, Ministry of the Interior and Decentralization
NGOs: Acción contra el Hambre España, Association pour la lutte contre la pauvreté et le sous-développement, INTERSOS, the Lutheran World Federation, ONG Actions, SOS Désert
Operational partners
NGOs: Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Appui au développement intégré des communautés rurales, Association mauritanienne des droits de l'Homme, Association mauritanienne pour la promotion de la famille, Ensemble pour la solidarité et le développement, Médecins Sans Frontières - Belgium
Others: ICRC, IOM, Mauritanian Red Crescent, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNV, WFP, WHO

| Financial information |

The financial requirements for UNHCR's Mauritania operation in 2015 amount to USD 24.4 million. This represents a slight increase in comparison with the initial 2014 budget for Mauritania, that will enable UNHCR to protect and assist almost 50,000 people in camps and urban areas.

The Malian refugee programme in Mauritania has been selected as a recipient of the UNHCR Seeds for Solutions initiative for 2014-2016. While this funding will cover, in part, solutions-oriented activities, resources will still be needed to meet refugees' basic needs in the short-to-medium term. Despite significant efforts to reach humanitarian standards, some sectors (such as nutrition and education) remain below standard. Without available resources, progress made will not be sustained and standards not attained in critical sectors.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update

UNHCR contact information

UNHCR Represenatation UNHCR in Mauritania
Style of Address Represenatation UNHCR Nouakchott
Street Address Ilot K No. 143, Route de la Corniche, Nouakchott, Mauritania
Mailing Address B.P. 4405, Nouakchott, Mauritania
Telephone 222 5 257 415
Facsimile 222 5 256 176
Time Zone GMT + 0
Working Hours
Monday:8:00 - 17:00
Tuesday:8:00 - 17:00
Wednesday:8:00 - 17:00
Thursday:8:00 - 17:00
Friday:8:00 - 12:30
Public Holidays 01 January 2016, jour de l'an
02 May 2016, fete du travail
07 July 2016, eid al fitr
08 July 2016, eid al fitr
12 September 2016, eid al adha
13 September 2016, eid al adha
03 October 2016, fete du nouvel an musulman
28 November 2016, fete du l'independence
12 December 2016, maouloud
25 December 2016, noel



UNHCR contact information

Statistical Snapshot*
* As at June 2015
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose applications for asylum or refugee status are pending as at 30 June 2015 at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Mauritania [1]
Refugees [2] 76,851
Asylum Seekers [3] 407
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 77,258
Originating from Mauritania [1]
Refugees [2] 34,121
Asylum Seekers [3] 7,134
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 4
Total Population of Concern 41,259
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
2014 0
2013 0
2012 0
2011 0
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 7,865
2006 0
2005 0
2004 0
2003 0
2002 0
2001 0
2000 0
Private Sector Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2006
2014 0
2013 0
2012 59,576
2011 0
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 0

Mauritania UNHCR Fundraising Reports Rss FeedUNHCR Fundraising Reports

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Barbara Hendricks visits Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks met with Malian refugees in Damba Camp on July 6, 2012, in northern Burkina Faso. The acclaimed soprano is using the visit to highlight the plight of tens of thousands of refugees who have fled from conflict in their country this year and are living in camps or settlements in neighbouring countries. As of early July, more than 198,000 Malians had fled to Mauritania (88,825), Burkina Faso (65,009) and Niger (44,987). At least 160,000 were estimated to be displaced within Mali, most in the north.

Barbara Hendricks visits Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

The UN refugee agency has just renewed its appeal for funds to help meet the needs of tens of thousands of Malian refugees and almost 300,000 internally displaced people. The funding UNHCR is seeking is needed, among other things, for the provision of supplementary and therapeutic food and delivery of health care, including for those suffering from malnutrition. This is one of UNHCR's main concerns in the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania, which hosts more than 70,000 Malians. A survey on nutrition conducted last January in the camp found that more than 13 per cent of refugee children aged under five suffer from acute malnutrition and more than 41 per cent from chronic malnutrition. Several measures have been taken to treat and prevent malnutrition, including distribution of nutritional supplements to babies and infants, organization of awareness sessions for mothers, increased access to health facilities, launch of a measles vaccination campaign and installation of better water and sanitation infrastructure. Additional funding is needed to improve the prevention and response mechanisms. UNHCR appealed last year for US$144 million for its Mali crisis operations in 2013, but has received only 32 per cent to date. The most urgent needs are food, shelter, sanitation, health care and education.

The photographs in this set were taken by Bechir Malum.

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

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Mauritania: Learning in the Desert

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Mauritania: Growing Numbers

In the last six months, thousands of Malians have come to Mbera refugee camp seeking safety. UNHCR is coordinating water, food and health services with the help of partner agencies.
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Mauritania: Looking After Your Own

UNHCR and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) are training refugees in Mauritania to become health care assistants in the camps where they have fled to.
Mauritania: Scramble for WaterPlay video

Mauritania: Scramble for Water

Drought in Mauritania's northern desert region affects thousands of Malian refugees.
Mauritania:  A Desert VisitPlay video

Mauritania: A Desert Visit

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres travels to north-west Mauritania to visit some of the world's most isolated refugees.
Mauritania: Help in the DesertPlay video

Mauritania: Help in the Desert

UNHCR and partner organizations are taking on the challenges of helping refugees arriving from Mali at the isolated and arid northern border of Mauritania.
Mauritania: Convoy to SafetyPlay video

Mauritania: Convoy to Safety

At Mauritania's border with Mali, a convoy of vehicles sets off with more than 1,500 Malian refugees to Mbera, a camp established 50 kilometres away.
Mauritania: Scramble for WaterPlay video

Mauritania: Scramble for Water

Drought in Mauritania's northern desert region affects thousands of Malian refugees
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The Journey Home to Mauritania

It has been a long wait, but up to 24,000 Mauritanians are poised to return home from Senegal following a 20-year exile. For many, it will be their first visit to the land of their forefathers.
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Testimonial: Mauritanian survivor

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