Operation: Opération: Mauritania



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
5,900 new arrivals registered at Mbera camp during the year
500 children registered in primary and secondary education for the 2018/2019 academic year
200 income-generating activities were set up for refugees and host communities in Mbera, as well as training programmes for more than 200 people
83  refugees from the Central African Republic, Senegal, and Syria departed for resettlement
2019 planning figures
100% of SGBV survivors will receive appropriate support 
100% of PoC identified in need of resettlement will have their cases submitted for resettlement 
70% of primary school-aged Malian refugee children will be enrolled in school 
15% of Malian refugees (18-59 yrs) will have own business or will be self-employed for more than 12 months 
10% of refugee and asylum-seeker youth aged 15-24 enrolled in certified livelihoods training in urban areas

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2018 84,322
2017 78,183
2016 74,735


[["Refugees",57191],["Refugee-like situation",26000],["Asylum-seekers",1131]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[23.75815901,24.368373692,19.53236051,19.77346129,20.26419446,19.32133972],"expenditure":[14.42116683,13.02928311,14.17643259,12.85847481,13.86024756,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[23.75815901,24.368373692,19.53236051,19.77346129,20.26419446,19.32133972],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[14.42116683,13.02928311,14.17643259,12.85847481,13.86024756,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational environment

Mauritania continued its open-door policy to refugees in 2018, hosting close to 55,800 Malian refugees in Mbera camp, as well as some 1,400 refugees and 1,110 asylum-seekers in urban areas in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. The Government continued to advance draft asylum legislation at the domestic level. Despite these positive developments, the asylum system remained weak and UNHCR continued to conduct all registration and refugee status determination (RSD) activities for refugees.

Funding in particular proved challenging, with significant reductions reported in Mbera camp during 2018, creating an enlarged burden on existing programmes. UNHCR faced increased difficulties during the year. Key partners announced their imminent withdrawal from the camp, thereby straining the capacity of medical and education programmes.


Population trends

In 2018, UNHCR registered 5,900 new arrivals in Mbera camp, leading to a total population of close to 55,800. Most new arrivals were fleeing violence in neighboring Mali, where the humanitarian situation continued to worsen. In urban areas, UNHCR recorded approximately 1,400 refugees and 1,130 asylum-seekers, mainly from the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Syrian Arab Republic and Senegal. In 2018, there was a 50% increase in new arrivals in Mauritania.

Key achievements

  • In 2018, following lengthy advocacy by UNHCR for the adoption of a national protection system for refugees, the Government began issuing national identity cards to Malian refugees in Mbera camp, as well as birth certificates to Malian children born in the camp, thereby guaranteeing greater freedom of movement and employment opportunities.
  • Mauritania qualified for the World Bank’s IDA18 program, paving the way for key development funds for the commune of Bassikounou.
  • UNHCR and IOM established a
  • new joint office in Nouadhibou, north-west Mauritania. Its strategic position makes it a juncture for refugees and migrants coming from sub-Saharan, western, and northern Africa. 

Unmet needs

  • The ability of UNHCR to provide quality education for children at the camp was hindered by the lack of funds. Classrooms and facilities needed extensive rehabilitations, and additional teachers were required due to increased enrollment. 
  • Funds were insufficient to respond to the shelter needs of new arrivals, leaving thousands of households with highly inadequate shelter.
  • A backlog of asylum claims at the urban level occurred after a 50% increase in new claims. The deployment of international RSD staff and the creation of a national registration position were not sufficient to meet the increased volume, leaving some 1,110 asylum-seekers with pending decisions on their claims.

Working environment

Mauritania has so far maintained its generous open-door policy towards refugees and asylum-seekers. Signatory to the Refugee Convention and OAU Convention, Mauritania is expected to adopt a national asylum law, formalizing refugee protection, including non-refoulement, civil rights and access to social services, in Mauritania. UNHCR works closely with national authorities, to promote knowledge and respect for refugee rights, and to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a national asylum system.
Due to the unstable situation in northern Mali, large scale returns of Malian refugees are not expected in 2018. UNHCR will continue to provide life-saving assistance to refugees in Mbera camp, targeting the most vulnerable. Moreover, UNHCR will continue to advocate with development actors to offer increased self-reliance opportunities for refugees and their host community in the Bassikounou region.
In urban areas, the number of people approaching UNHCR to claim asylum in Mauritania is expected to steadily increase. UNHCR will provide assistance to people with specific needs and increase their access to services (such as health and education), including training opportunities.
UNHCR works closely with the Government of Mauritania and the United Nations Country Team, to fully integrate refugees and asylum-seekers, in alignment with the development framework. UNHCR will continue to coordinate protection and assistance for refugees in Mauritania, in close cooperation with national authorities, other UN agencies, NGOs and donors.

 Key priorities

UNHCR’s overall protection and solutions strategy for all refugees in Mauritania is based on five key components:
  • Ensuring protection and access to essential services,
  • Empowering refugees in becoming self-reliant,
  • Supporting the host population to promote peaceful coexistence,
  • Providing refugees with access to durable solutions, and
  • Advocating with authorities towards the adoption of a national asylum law and issuance documentation for refugees in Mauritania.
 In Mbera camp, UNHCR’s strategy is aligned with the Regional Strategy for Protection and Assistance to Malian Refugees, adopted in 2015, to harmonize the response to the Mali situation across asylum countries. In 2018, UNHCR will focus on creating income-generating opportunities and literacy programs, in close cooperation with communities in order to progressively increase refugees’ self-reliance  
Latest contributions
  • 17-JUL-2019
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  • 11-JUL-2019
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  • 08-JUL-2019
    European Union
  • Kuwait
  • 05-JUL-2019
  • 04-JUL-2019

    private donors

  • European Union
  • Japan
  • 03-JUL-2019
  • 02-JUL-2019
  • 30-JUN-2019

    private donors

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