Mauritania + 4 more

Mauritania: UNHCR Operational Update as of 9 December 2016


Voluntary returns to Mali facilitated since January 2016

New arrivals from Mali in 2016

Malian refugees with specific needs (as of 1 December 2016)

12, 586
Malian households in Mbera camp (as of 1 December 2016)

of potable water available per person per day

USD 19.4 M
Requested for the operation




  • Maintain protection and assistance for all Malian refugees in Mbera camp.

  • Strengthen support to refugees’ self-reliance.

  • Maintain peaceful coexistence between the refugees and host communities.


  • Since end of September, more than 3,800 people crossed the Mali - Mauritania border to seek refuge in Mbera camp; influx continues in December. This influx is the largest since 2013. New arrivals are assisted with emergency food, shelter and basic items.

  • There is an urgent need to replace shelter and latrines – 50% of latrines in Mbera camp will reach their maximum storage capacity by the end of 2016. This is particularly crucial considering the unstable situation in northern Mali, with unlikely massive return and recent waves of arrivals to the camp.

  • On 6 December, UNHCR in collaboration with the Mauritanian Ministry of Interior held a workshop to present the Mauritanian Asylum law project to about 15 Government officials of the Ministry of Interior. The workshop was held in the presence of the Ministry of the Interior Secretary and the national broadcasting media.

Operational Context

In collaboration with the Mauritanian Government which has kept its borders open to new influxes, UNHCR with UN organizations and national and international NGOs, continues to lead the humanitarian response for 44,965 Malian refugees and any new arrivals in Mbera camp. In addition, the organization ensures the protection and assistance of 1,581 urban refugees and 394 asylum seekers, mainly from the Central African Republic, Syria and Côte d’Ivoire.

UNHCR works closely with Mauritanian authorities to enhance the protection environment for refugees and asylum seekers in Mauritania, notably through the development and implementation of a national asylum law. Pending the adoption of a national refugee legislation, UNHCR advocates for further integration of refugees by improving access to basic services, such as health, economic opportunities but also to documentation and birth registration.

The majority of Malian refugees living in Mbera camp arrived in 2012: violent clashes in north Mali triggered important waves of displacements into Mauritania, where a refugee camp was established 50 Km from the Malian border in the Hodh ech Charghi region. Following the military intervention in northern Mali in January 2013, new influxes of Malian refugees were accommodated in Mbera camp.

On 16 June 2016, Mauritania, Mali and UNHCR signed a Tripartite Agreement to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Malian refugees. The tripartite agreement reiterates the voluntary nature of repatriation and reconfirms the commitments of the Mauritanian and Malian states to protect refugees. However, despite the signing of a peace agreement in Mali in June 2015 and the voluntary return of more than 1,800 refugees from Mbera camp so far in 2016, the security conditions in northern Mali remain volatile. Large-scale returns of refugees are therefore not yet envisaged and UNHCR and its partners maintain their presence in Bassikounou to sustain the humanitarian response in Mbera Camp.