Since the beginning of the pandemic, UNHCR has supported the Mauritanian Government’s COVID-19 Response Plan, focusing its interventions in the Hodh Chargui region where the Agency and its partners operate in the framework of the Refugee Coordination Model (RCM). At the same time, refugees, including refugees in urban centers, are fully included in the Government’s response and COVID-19 refugee patients are treated in national health structures. At the request of the governor of Hodh Chargui, UNHCR together with the NGO Alima and WHO, trained thirty-two youth volunteers to reinforce the community surveillance system. In addition to this, UNHCR has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the health center in Bassikounou which serves as a referral hospital for confirmed positive cases in the department.
Survey on the socioeconomic and protection impacts of COVID-19 in Mbera camp
In July, UNHCR conducted a sampling survey on the socioeconomic and protection impacts of COVID-19 on refugees in Mbera camp, in partnership with its camp management partner.
The survey found out that while 100 per cent of the respondents were aware of COVID-19 and its preventive measures, 62 per cent could not afford to buy hygiene items. The study also highlighted COVID-19 socio-economic impact, with 75 per cent of the respondents stating their livelihood being negatively affected by the pandemic.
In June, UNHCR distributed "Cash for Shelter" to about 600 refugee families (4,242 persons) in Mbera camp to ensure proper social distancing through rehabilitation/construction of shelters in the camp.
Food and cash assistance
To mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on refugees in Mbera camp, in July UNHCR and WFP proceeded with targeted food and cash assistance for 57,729 vulnerable refugees for two months instead of one. Not all refugees could receive this assistance due to a lack of funding.
In order to minimize the impact of prolonged school closures on refugee children, until the end of June UNHCR supported distance education in Mbera camp in coordination with partners. The distance learning model developed in the camp has been replicated by the Government in seven other departments in the country.
Since 1 August the national health system (Inaya) is being extended to the Hodh Chargui region with the support of World Bank financing under the IDA-18 Sub-Window for Refugees. The Inaya deployment will enable refugees in Mbera camp to be covered by the national health system as per the relevant pledge, inter alia, of Mauritania during the Global Refugee Forum (GRF). Based on the transition period road map developed in collaboration with the Government, UNHCR will continue ensuring free-of-charge primary health care in the camp for all refugees until the end of the year.