European Union and WFP provide vital support to Malian refugees in Mauritania
Nouakchott – In 2019, the European Union contributed €1.5 million (US$ 1.6 million) to the United Nations World Food Programme to support 55,000 Malian refugees in Mauritania with cash assistance at a time when growing insecurity in Mali makes it harder for people to return home.
In 2018, inter-ethnic conflict flared up in central Mali, resulting in increased internal and cross-border displacements. Many Malians affected by violence sought refuge in Mauritania, bringing the population of the Mbera refugee camp in the south-east of the country to 57,000 people. This year alone, more than 4,000 new refugees were registered there, putting an additional strain on the already stretched capacity of the camp.
“No one wants to be a refugee forever, but the people we meet in the camp tell us that the situation in Mali does not allow for their safe return” said Nacer Benalleg, WFP Representative and Country Director in Mauritania. “Thanks to the continued support of the EU, WFP has enabled many refugee families to get the food they need. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with the EU to continue saving lives and changing lives in Mauritania.”
Malian refugees remain heavily reliant on international assistance. Since 2018, the EU has contributed a total of €3.5 million to WFP’s operations supporting refugees in the Mbera camp. Thanks to donors like the EU, WFP has been providing families with monthly cash transfers which allow them to purchase foods of their choice from local markets.
“Conditions in the camp are difficult, especially for the poorest people,” said Fatimatou, a mother of two who received monthly support from WFP. “Food distributions helped us a lot in the past, but it was the cash we received that really made a difference. I could buy things like meat, vegetables and soap. I also bought less on credit.”
Most Malian refugees in Mauritania live in the Mbera camp in the Hodh ech CharguI region where high levels of poverty and food insecurity are exacerbated by successive years of drought, poor infrastructure and limited access. Nearly 40 percent of the local population in this region is affected by food insecurity.
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