Mauritania hosts over 2,000 urban refugees and asylumseekers and more than 55,000 Malian refugees in Mbera, a camp established in 2012 in the arid south-eastern region close to the Malian border.
Despite the conclusion of a peace agreement in 2015, large-scale returns of Malian refugees are not expected due to persistent violence in northern Mali. In March alone, 928 new arrivals were registered in Mbera.
As the situation in northern Mali continues to be unstable, Mauritania struggles to cope with the growing needs of new refugees and the vulnerable host communities.
Update on Achievements
In Mauritania, UNHCR provides protection and assistance to 55,263 Malian refugees in Mbera camp in south-eastern Mauritania and to 1,620 urban refugees and 915 asylum-seekers (mainly from the Central African Republic, Syria and Côte d’Ivoire) in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.
UNHCR works closely with the Mauritanian authorities towards the development and implementation of a national asylum system. Pending the adoption of the asylum law, UNHCR supports the authorities to enhance refugee protection in Mauritania improving access to documentation, including birth registration, basic services, such as health, education, and economic opportunities.
Since 2012, UNHCR has led the humanitarian response for Malian refugees in the Hodh Echarghi region, in collaboration with the Mauritanian Government, which continues to keep its borders open to new influxes, and in cooperation with other UN agencies, national and international NGOs. Despite the conclusion of a peace agreement in Mali in June 2015, large-scale returns of refugees are not yet expected due to the security situation in northern Mali. In June 2016, Mauritania, Mali and UNHCR concluded a Tripartite Agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Malian refugees. This agreement will provide a framework to facilitate voluntary return, when the conditions in Mali will allow. In the meantime, it reaffirms the commitment of Mauritania and Mali to protect refugees. At recent meeting in Niamey (Niger), UNHCR reaffirmed the conditions in Mali are not conducive to promote return of refugees. However UNHCR may facilitate voluntary return under request on an individual case basis.