Operation: Opération: Mauritania



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Key Figures

2017 year-end results
100% of people of concern were registered and verified on an individual basis in Mbera camp
100% households and new arrivals received core relief items
100% people of concern in Mbera camp had access to primary health care
51% of primary school-aged children enrolled in primary education in the camp and 90% in urban areas
80 people of concern were enrolled in UNHCR-supported tertiary education programmes
23 litres of potable water per person per day was provided in Mbera camp (above the standard of 20 litres)
2018 planning figures
100% of primary school-aged Malian refugee children in Mbera camp will be enrolled in primary education 
80%  of young refugees and asylum-seekers (aged 15-24)   in urban areas will be enrolled in certified livelihoods training 
20% of Malian refugees in Mbera camp will be supported in launching businesses/being self-employed for more than 12 months 

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2017 78,183
2016 74,735
2015 77,891


[["Refugees",51427],["Refugee-like situation",26000],["Asylum-seekers",756]]
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2017 {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"budget":[30.18104158,23.75815901,24.368373692,19.53236051,19.77346129,20.09419446],"expenditure":[22.20868457,14.42116683,13.02928311,14.17643259,12.85847481,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[30.18104158,23.75815901,24.368373692,19.53236051,19.77346129,20.09419446],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[22.20868457,14.42116683,13.02928311,14.17643259,12.85847481,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

Operational context

Mauritania continued to have a generous open-door policy towards refugees and asylum-seekers in 2017. However, the process of adopting a national asylum law slowed down. This was partly due to the dissolution of the Senate, one of the Legislative Chambers, in the context of a constitutional reform.
The volatile security situation in the northern and central parts of Mali has resulted in the displacement of Malians to neigbouring countries. In 2017, some 4,820 new arrivals from Mali were registered in Mbera camp, while 710 people were supported to voluntarily return to Mali. However, given the security situation, UNHCR did not promote the return of Malian refugees as conditions are not yet conducive
At the urban level, the protection space and treatment of refugees varied depending on their nationality and ethnicity. In Mbera camp, UNHCR continued to face a number of constraints related to the increase in new arrivals, insufficient funds, and harsh climate conditions. The biometric identity management system (BIMS) verification exercise launched in August 2017 had closed the cases for some 6,390 people by the end of the year, though this figure was offset by a similar number of new arrivals and births.
In 2017, a Multi-Year and Multi-Partner solutions strategy was developed prioritizing refugee identification and access to documentation, protection, ensuring safety and dignity, and progressive solutions towards self-reliance and durable solutions for refugees in Mauritania.
In 2017, Mauritania remained a transit country of mixed movements.  UNHCR opened a temporary office in the coastal town of Nouadhibou to monitor and conduct a profiling exercise to identify vulnerabilities among these flows.

Population trends

The total number of people of concern in Mauritania stood at 52,200 at the end of the year.
In Mbera camp, UNHCR continued to lead and coordinate the humanitarian response. In collaboration with partners, UNHCR provided essential services, protection and assistance to close to 50,000 people, of which some 54 per cent were female, and recognized on a prima facie basis.
Moreover, some 1,600 refugees and 760 asylum-seekers in urban areas were registered in the UNHCR database, of whom 43 per cent were women. Urban refugees mainly originated from the Central African Republic (34 per cent), Syrian Arab Republic (27 per cent), and Côte d’Ivoire (17 per cent).
Mauritania has also been hosting and protecting for decades some 26,000 Sahrawis who are well integrated and receive no assistance from UNHCR.

Key achievements

  • Thanks to the implementation of the new biometric registration system (BIMS), refugee data in Mbera camp was updated.
  • A socio-economic profiling survey and added value chain study were carried out in Mbera camp envisaging the Multi-Year, Multi-Partner Protection and Solutions Strategy for 2018 to 2022.
  • UNHCR supported the DAFI Scholarships Programme for higher education, through which 80 people of concern accessed tertiary education.
  • On average there is one latrine per 26.6 people in Mbera camp; 1,130 permanent latrines have been constructed, bringing the total number of functional latrines to 1,855
  • The Government and development partners signed the 2018-2022 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Partnership Framework (CPDD), which integrates humanitarian and development interventions and includes a strategy to strengthen peaceful coexistence and self-reliance for refugees and host communities in Mauritania.

Unmet needs

Only 19 per cent of UNHCR’s funding requirements in Mauritania were met in 2017. The lack of funds forced the Office to prioritize emergency needs rather than self-reliance or livelihood activities.
However, gaps in emergency response remained as well, only 300 out of 13,360 households were provided had access to energy and 12.6 per cent of households had access to arable land or other productive natural resources. Support programmes for income-generating activities and access to microfinance, training, market gardening and people's access to energy sources could not be organized for the refugee population in Mbera.
Rehabilitation of all semi-permanent shelters and shelter needs for new arrivals were not fully met in 2017. Only 56.8 per cent of the population in Mbera camp was living in adequate dwellings in 2017.
Only 63.8 per cent of people with specific needs living in the camp received targeted assistance in 2017.
Due to understaffing, there was a significant backlog of cases pending processing for refugee status determination of the urban caseload. Urban refugees do not receive civil documentation by the government. Furthermore, none of the vulnerable cases identified in 2017 were submitted for resettlement.

Working environment

By the end of 2016, some 44,000 refugees and asylum-seekers will be hosted in Mauritania, mainly in Mbera camp, in the south-east of the country, and in urban areas. Most refugees in the camp fled after 2012 from northern Mali, where the security situation remains volatile with regular clashes between armed groups, terrorist attacks and recurrent banditry. In this context, organized voluntary repatriation is not foreseen in the near future. 

Since the beginning of the crisis, living conditions in Mbera camp have significantly improved in all sectors, including protection, health, nutrition and water and sanitation. The Government of Mauritania provided a large tract of land in 2012 to host the thousands of refugees from northern Mali. Since then, the host country ensures security inside and outside the camp for refugees and for humanitarian staff. The host population around Mbera camp continues to share its scarce resources, including water and firewood, with the refugee community. 

Key Priorities

In 2017, UNHCR's operation will focus on:
•    Supporting the Mauritanian authorities in improving its legal framework and practices related to asylum;
•    Maintaining essential protection and services for all refugees in Mbera camp;
•    Strengthening refugees’ self-reliance in Mauritania to gradually reduce their dependency on humanitarian assistance;
•    Supporting peaceful coexistence between the refugee and host communities

Lack of funding will severely affect UNHCR’s capacity to conduct self-reliance and livelihood support interventions. For example, it will limit the number of funded income-generation schemes as well as the number of vocational training programmes.