Japan Contributes US$6 Million To Assist Local Communities And Malian Refugees In Southern-Eastern Mauritania

Published on 23 May 2017

The Government of Japan has provided US$6 million for the humanitarian efforts of three United Nations agencies in Mauritania: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The three agencies work in collaboration with the Government of Mauritania to strengthen security nationwide and protect Malian refugees and support vulnerable local communities in the country’s semi-arid south-eastern Hodh ech Chargui region, where the harsh climate and instability have undermined livelihoods, increased displacements and deepened food insecurity.

“In partnership with the United Nations system, Japan supports the actions of the Mauritanian Government in several areas, including activities to strengthen the capacity of the Mauritanian authorities in managing its borders, controlling illicit trafficking, fighting against terrorism and radicalism, as well as providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Mauritanian populations and protecting refugees,” said Japan’s Ambassador to Mauritania, Hisatsugu Shimizu, who visited Hodh ech Chargui last November.  

Since the outbreak of the conflict in northern Mali in 2012, the Government of Mauritania has ensured international protection and a safe asylum space for Malians who sought refuge in Mbera camp, located in Hodh ech Chargui region. Displacement in this area has placed a further strain on already scarce resources in recent years.

From 2012, the Japanese government has provided more than US $38 million for humanitarian interventions and collective capacity building for peace and security to the three agencies. The renewed contribution – part of a wider Japanese regional package of assistance – is a key for the combined efforts of the three agencies to ensure protection and vital support for both the refugees and the vulnerable Mauritanian host communities, and peaceful coexistence and collaboration between these populations in stronger security.

According to the UNHCR Representative in Mauritania, Mohamed Alwash, the Japanese funding will contribute to the protection of refugees, camp management and the provision of essential services such as general distributions, health services and education to avoid the “loss of a generation” in Mbera camp.  
“While UNHCR and its partners continue to strengthen refugees’ self-reliance to reduce their dependency on humanitarian assistance, donors’ contributions remain vital to maintain the protection progresses achieved up to date,” Alwash said.

Japan’s generous contribution will also allow WFP to provide a comprehensive package of food assistance, nutrition and livelihoods support for some 22,500 vulnerable Mauritanians living around Mbera and to continue assisting 50,000 Malian refugees in Mbera camp.
“We highly appreciate the Japanese contribution as a positive example to be followed for addressing the needs of both refugees and the host population in an integrated manner, which will facilitate the on-going efforts to enhance the social cohesion in the area and look for longer-term solutions towards zero hunger”, said Jean-Noel Gentile, WFP Representative and Country Director in Mauritania.

According to Anke Strauss, IOM Chief of Mission in Mauritania, the renewed contribution from Japan will support strengthening the collective capacity to prevent the negative impact of irregular migration and to protect peace and security though the continuous capacity building of the police and the stronger engagement of local populations, in particular the collaboration between the Mauritanian youth in Bassikounou and the Malian youth in Mbera camp. Anke Strauss greeted the continuous constructive partnership among the Government of Mauritania, IOM and the Government of Japan. “Our future experiences will further extend this partnership to ensure the security of all,” said Strauss.

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UNHCR coordinates the humanitarian response to the refugee situation to ensure protection, access to primary education, health, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as the provision of life-saving items in Mbera camp. The organisation works to promote self-reliance and pacific coexistence in the camp and surroundings.

WFP provides monthly general food distributions and works to treat and prevent moderate and acute malnutrition by providing fortified nutritional supplements for children under five, and pregnant and nursing women, as well as a daily hot meal to children at school in Mbera camp. In addition, WFP assists vulnerable Mauritanians with food and nutritional assistance through safety nets and resilience building programmes in the most food-insecure areas of the country. Capacity development of key national food security and nutrition institutions is a crosscutting priority of all WFP interventions.

IOM collaborates with the Government of Mauritania and other partners to strengthen the national migration management capacity and enhance support of migrants in the country. Moreover, since the outbreak of the conflict in northern Mali in 2012, IOM has supported host communities surrounding the Mbera refugee camp, as well as the Malian refugees.

For more information please contact:
•    UNHCR Mauritania:
Helena B. Pes, Associate Public Information Officer, pes@unhcr.org, Tel: +222 22 887 904
•    WFP:
Vanessa Rizzi, Donor Relations and Communications Officer, WFP/Mauritania, vanessa.rizzi@wfp.org, +222 44 40 00 05
Elizabeth Bryant, Regional Communications Officer, WFP/Dakar, elizabeth.bryant@wfp.org, + 221 77 639 4271
•    IOM Mauritania:
Tomoko Sato, Project Manager, tsato@iom.int, tel +222 49383790