2014 UNHCR country operations profile - Mauritania
| Overview |
Following the conflict that erupted in northern Mali in 2012, by mid-August 2013, 72,000 Malian refugees had sought refuge in Mauritania and were settled in a well-equipped refugee camp in the remote south-east area of the country. UNHCR is progressively moving out of the emergency response phase, with the number of arrivals having shrunk to an average of 13 refugees a day in August 2013, from a peak of 1,000 to 1,500 in early 2012.
Since June 2013, UNHCR has been observing a small number of spontaneous returns to Mali. However, despite efforts to stabilize the country, including the deployment of a peacekeeping force and the presidential elections in mid-2013, the humanitarian and security situation in Mali remains fragile. Large-scale returns of refugees are therefore not yet envisaged and the Mauritania Office and its partners are maintaining their presence in Bassikounou/Mbera camp to continue the humanitarian response and ensure preparedness in case of any new influx, should the situation deteriorate.
For urban refugees, in the absence of a national asylum system, UNHCR conducts refugee status determination (RSD); works to strengthen the capacity of national authorities on asylum; provides assistance targeting refugees with specific needs; and seeks durable solutions for the refugees. By 31 July 2013, UNHCR had registered 478 refugees and 975 asylum seekers living in urban areas in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries. In addition, 26,000 Sahrawi people continue to be considered as being in a refugee-like situation. They have not approached UNHCR as they are well integrated in Mauritania.
Mauritania is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol and is in the process of developing a national asylum system with UNHCR's assistance. A draft law on asylum is awaiting adoption at the next parliamentary session, following the legislative elections scheduled for November 2013.
Over 12,000 Mauritanian refugees are registered in Mali, of whom some 8,000 have expressed the wish to return home. Activities related to the repatriation and reintegration of these refugees will start once a Tripartite Agreement between Mauritania, Mali and UNHCR is concluded.
The Government of Mauritania provides land for Mbera camp and security for Malian refugees and humanitarian workers in the country, as well as access to basic services for urban refugees.
People of concern
The main groups of people of concern planned for in 2014 under the Mauritania operation are: Malian refugees who fled insecurity in northern Mali; urban refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly Ivorian and Congolese; and Mauritanian returnees from Mali and Senegal.
|UNHCR 2014 planning figures for Mauritania|
|TYPE OF POPULATION||ORIGIN||Dec 2013||Dec 2014||Dec 2015|
|Total in country||of whom assisted
|Total in country||of whom assisted
|Total in country||of whom assisted
|Refugees||Dem. Rep. of the Congo||100||100||120||120||140||140|
|People in refugee-like situations||Western Sahara||26,000||-||26,000||-||26,000||-|
|Asylum-seekers||Dem. Rep. of the Congo||50||50||40||40||30||30|
|Returnee arrivals during year (ex-refugees)||Mauritania||-||-||8,000||8,000||-||-|
| Response |
Needs and strategies
In 2014, it is expected that the operation for Malian refugees will progressively stabilize, with fewer refugee arrivals and growing numbers of refugees leaving the camp, including cases of spontaneous returns to Mali. However, it is anticipated that the situation in Mali will remain fragile and will not yet allow for large-scale returns. UNHCR and its partners will maintain their presence in Bassikounou/Mbera to sustain the humanitarian response for an estimated 60,000 Malian refugees in Mbera camp. Emphasis will be put on ensuring efficient coordination of the response and continued coverage of the refugees' basic needs, including in the sectors of protection, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, nutrition, non-food items (NFIs), and education. Priority will be given to addressing the specific needs of vulnerable refugees. In 2014, UNHCR will focus increasingly on income-generating activities and launch community-based projects to enhance the refugees' self-reliance and promote peaceful coexistence between the refugees and the host community.
Given the nomadic nature of the refugees and their close links with the host population, the management of population figures will continue to be challenging. Following the introduction of new verification procedures at the border and in the camp and the launching of a biometric registration exercise in Mbera camp together with the authorities in April 2013, UNHCR will regularly update its database with reliable population figures in 2014.
In terms of protection and assistance for urban refugees, UNHCR will continue to advocate for the adoption and the enforcement of a law on asylum, in line with international standards, to help preserve the rights of refugees (e.g. access to civil status documentation, the right to employment etc.). Pending the establishment of a national asylum system, the Office will continue to conduct RSD and build the capacity of governmental authorities on asylum issues.
Given the poor economic conditions of the majority of the refugees, the Office will continue to cover their basic needs by providing health and education assistance as well as shelter support (lump sum) for refugees with specific needs.
In parallel, UNHCR, together with partners, will support and increase livelihood activities and microfinance projects to help the refugees become more self-reliant and less dependent on humanitarian assistance, pending the achievement of a durable solution.
Once a Tripartite Agreement between Mauritania, Mali and UNHCR is concluded, UNHCR will provide support to the Mauritanian authorities for the implementation of repatriation and reintegration activities for Mauritanian returnees from Mali.
| Implementation |
UNHCR works closely with the Ministry of the Interior and Decentralization (MIDEC). It also participates in the UN Country Team and Humanitarian Country Team and works with a range of implementing and operational partners. At the request of the Mauritanian Government, UNHCR is coordinating the response to the Malian refugee situation, in close collaboration with MIDEC and a follow-up committee appointed by the authorities. Regular coordination meetings are held in Nouakchott and Bassikounou with the authorities, UN agencies, NGOs and national civil society partners.
|2014 UNHCR partners in Mauritania|
|Government agencies: Ministry of the Interior and Decentralization|
|NGOs: Commission for Food Security, Intermón Oxfam, Intersos, Lutheran World Federation, ONG Actions, SOS Désert|
|NGOs: Action Contre la Faim - Spain, 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, Médecins sans Frontières - Belgium, ONG Espoirs, Solidarités International|
|Others: ICRC, IOM, Mauritanian Red Crescent, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNV, WFP|
| Financial information |
In 2012, the financial requirements for UNHCR's operation in Mauritania increased dramatically to USD 38.1 million as a result of the response to the Mali Situation. In 2014, the financial requirements for the operation are set at USD 24 million, a decrease of USD 6 million when compared to the revised 2013 budget of USD 30 million. This reduction is due to the shift from essential services to the repatriation of Malian refugees, should this materialize in the course of 2014. Given the wide range of needs, predictable and flexible funding will help the Office to manage the changing situation, particularly if voluntary return for Malian refugees in Mbera camp becomes a possibility.
Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105
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|
|Public Holidays||01 January 2014, New Year's Day
14 January 2014, Maouloud
01 May 2014, Labour Day
28 July 2014, Korite
29 July 2014, Korite
06 October 2014, Eid Al-Adha
07 October 2014, Eid Al-Adha
23 October 2014, Eid Al-Adha
27 November 2014, Independence Day
25 December 2014, Christmas Day