Tens of thousands of refugees have fled insecurity in northern Mali for shelter across the border

Mauritania is largely a desert country in West Africa’s Sahel region, and is home to over 3.5 million people.

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It is a bridge between North Africa’s Arab Maghreb and the western sub-Sahara. It’s also one of Africa’s newest oil producers.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first began working in Mauritania in 1994. Today, all of MSFs’ work is carried out in the south east of the country along Mauritania’s border with Mali.

Here, tens of thousands of refugees have fled insecurity in northern Mali for shelter in Mbera refugee camp.

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patient story

Massaya and Taghry, mother and father of quadruplets born in Bassikounou, from Mali.

“We left the village out of fear for our life; we were scared for our life. We were worried about not having food. Half of our village fled at the same time”
TaghryFather to quadruplets born in msf's care

MSF’s work in Mauritania: 2016

MSF provides medical care to Malian refugees and host communities in Mauritania, and in the last three months of 2016 saw the biggest influx of refugees since 2013.

Thousands of Malians are still living in Mbera camp in southeast Mauritania, following the conflict in 2013 which forced them to flee across the border.

Despite the peace process, violent attacks by armed groups and bandits have dissuaded them from returning home.

The latest arrival at the end of 2016 has put additional pressure on the camp’s infrastructure.

According to the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, 46,877 people were living in Mbera camp in December 2016.

MSF provided basic and emergency healthcare, as well as gynaecological and obstetric services, for the refugees in the camp and the host communities in nearby Bassikounou and Fassala.

In 2016, the majority of the surgical interventions performed by MSF teams were caesarean sections, and visceral and orthopaedic procedures. 

Find out more in our International Activity Report