Mauritania + 6 more

Mauritania: UNHCR Operational Update as of 15 February 2016

Situation Report
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  • In 2015, earmarked contributions to UNHCR’s operation in Mauritania covered 20% of the needs. While the organization is grateful to its donors, increased support is needed in 2016 in order to allow UNHCR and its partners to cover essential needs in Mberra camp and to strengthen its investment in self-reliance programmes for refugees.

  • Following an intense awareness raising campaign to promote education for all, particularly aimed at strengthening the inclusion of girls, the number of girls enrolled at the 6 primary schools in the camp has raised up to 2,260.

  • On 4 February, UNHCR held a participatory needs assessment session with a hundred urban refugees in Nouakchott who discussed their needs and proposed solutions in order to strengthen refugees’ participation in the process of decision making.

  • UNHCR continues to strengthen the capacity of the Mauritanian authorities with regard to the refugee rights and freedom of movements. More than 50 Mauritania policemen, gendarmes and military officers were trained in January.

  • Between December 2015 and January 2016, 4,206 among the most vulnerable refugees in Mberra camp, received a full set of clothes. The distribution was made possible thanks to the kind donation of the Japanese clothing company UNIQLO.

  • In order to reduce refugees’ dependency on humanitarian aid in Mberra camp, UNHCR places particular attention on strengthening refugees’ self-reliance. The programme is explained in the 4-minute documentary “Mberra Camp. Towards Refugees Self-Reliance”, now live on Youtube.

Operational Context

Violent clashes in northern Mali in early 2012 triggered important waves of displacements into Mauritania, where a refugee camp was established 50 Km from the Malian border in the Hodh el Charghi region. Following the military intervention in northern Mali in January 2013, new influxes of Malian refugees occurred, thus further stretching the limited resources available in the area.
In collaboration with the Mauritanian Government that has kept its borders open to new influxes, UN organizations and national and international NGOs, UNHCR leads the humanitarian response for 50,419 Malian refugees in Mberra camp.

In addition, the organization protects and assists 1,194 urban refugees and 541 asylum seekers, mainly from the Central African Republic, Syria, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal.

Despite the signing of a peace agreement in Mali in June 2015 and the voluntary return of more than 350 refugees from Mberra camp in December, the security conditions in northern Mali remains unstable. Large-scale returns of refugees are therefore not yet envisaged and UNHCR and its partners are maintaining their presence in Bassikounou to sustain the humanitarian response at Mberra Camp.