Bridging the Arab Maghreb and the Sahel region, Mauritania is one of the poorest countries in the world. Like other Sahel countries, Mauritania is affected by recurrent shocks.
Over 30% of its population is either near or already living in multidimensional poverty, with acute deprivation in health, education, and standard of living.
Since last year, Mauritania has been facing an acceleration of forced displacements fuelled by the aggravation of the crisis in neighbouring Mali. EU humanitarian aid supported vulnerable Malian refugees and provided lean season support.
What are the needs?
Displacements, extreme weather, and food and nutrition crises have caused a situation in which more than 844,000 people needed humanitarian assistance in 2023.
Results from the Cadre Harmonisé (November 2023) show that almost 365,000 people will face acute food insecurity. This year, more than 150,000 children are expected to face acute malnutrition. The zones most affected by malnutrition are also those most at risk of acute food insecurity.
The country hosts the largest camp for refugees from Mali who, since 2012, have fled to Mauritania for safety. With ongoing violence and instability in Mali, the influx of refugees is constantly increasing and their prospects for return remain very limited. A substantial share of the Malian refugees has been living in Mauritania for a decade.
Out of 104,000 Malian refugees in the country, 97,000 are estimated to be hosted in the Mbera camp, which has already exceeded its capacity by more than 20,000 people. The camp itself now exceeds in size most Mauritanian urban agglomerations.
Humanitarian needs include access to basic services, protection, and food assistance, as the Malian refugees are in an area already affected by drought, scarce resources, agro-pastoral conflicts, and low resilience of host communities.
The immediate needs of refugees, returnees, and host communities compound the long-term needs in the country.
How are we helping?
The EU has been present with humanitarian assistance since 2007, starting with a few interventions related to malnutrition, which expanded in size and nature from 2012 with the rapidly growing influx of refugees from Mali.
Over 15 years of emergency interventions in the areas with the most severe levels of food insecurity and acute malnutrition in Mauritania, the EU has significantly contributed to strengthening the capacity of the Mauritanian institutions to respond to these shocks.
In response to the influx of Malian refugees, in 2023, the EU ramped up its humanitarian funding for Mauritania, adding over €3.167 million to the already allocated €7 million in humanitarian aid in the country. The EU was able to mobilise this additional assistance in just a few weeks, to be deployed after the displacements to supplement the support provided through the solidarity of host communities under pressure.
For 2024, the EU is more than doubling its humanitarian assistance allocation for further emergency assistance, allocating €5.5 million to keep assisting vulnerable Malian refugees in Mauritania and provide lean season support, within the framework of a responsible and gradual exit strategy.
The EU has involved local and national partners in the implementation of its response, which is coordinated in synergy with development, foreign policy, and other EU actors, as it operates in a context where, on its own, it is inadequate, as the protracted influx of refugees will increase the pressure on equally suffering local communities. Many of these actors are now better equipped and prepared to continue the emergency response.
Since 2007, we have supported humanitarian projects in the country with €154 million.
Part of the EU’s humanitarian funding in Mauritania also supports the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). Thanks to this important lifeline, humanitarian workers and supplies can reach people in need of assistance in just 2.5 hours instead of 3 days by road.
Last updated: 08/02/2024
Facts & figures
Over 30% of the population is either near or already living in multidimensional poverty with acute deprivation in health, education, and standard of living
More than 844,000 people needed humanitarian assistance in 2023
Over 150,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition (Cadre Harmonise, November 2023)
Over 104,000 refugees from Mali (UNHCR, December 2023)
EU humanitarian aid funding:
€5.5 million initially allocated in 2024
Over €10 million in 2023
€154 million since 2007