WFP has been providing food assistance to Malian refugees in Mauritania since early April. As of 30 April, WFP is distributing two rounds of 15-day food rations to 56,000 refugees. As the number of refugees continues to increase, WFP is looking to scale up operations.
Malian refugees in the M'bera camp in Mauritania have been recieving a complete WFP food basket made up of rice, pulses, oil, sugar and Super Cereal, a fortified blended flour mix. Food distributions are ongoing in order to ensure that the increasing number of refugees has access to food.
Ongoing tensions in northern Mali have forced tens of thousands of Malians to flee their homes and seek refuge in Mauritania. These refugees are settling in the M'bera refugee camp located in the southeast of the country at about 50 km from the Malian border.
The M'bera refugee camp is currently hosting around 63,000 refugees and more are crossing the Mauritanian border at a rate of 600 individuals per day. The displacement of these populations has occured when the Sahel region is threatened by a food and nutrition crisis. A survey conducted in December 2011 showed that the Hodh Echargui region, where the M'bera refugee camp is located, is the most affected by food insecurity in Mauritania.
Since their arrival, the refugees have received emergency humanitarian assistance provided by the Mauritanian Government and UNHCR in collaboration with other UN agencies (UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, WHO) as well as national and international NGOs. The assistance package is made up of the necessary food and non-food items to address the essential health, food, water, hygiene and sanitation needs of the refugees.
The arrival of refugees has put additional pressure on the capacity of the Government and the local communities alike to respond to the immediate needs of refugees and will adversely affect the already fragile situation of host communities in the area.
Considering that the area where the refugees are located is particularly difficult to access and requires travelling long distances, WFP has established an airline service (UNHAS) to provide safe transport and facilitate access to the area for the humanitarian community. Since 8 April, personnel from UN agencies, NGOs and the Government have taken UNHAS flights.
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