GENEVA, Switzerland, September 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM has launched a project to boost community empowerment and self-reliance in communities hosting Malian refugees in southeast Mauritania.
The five-month EUR 284,000 project, which is funded by the Italian government, aims to empower host communities living around the M’bera refugee camp, in the south east of the country, and improve their resilience, reducing the risk of conflicts and emigration in rural areas.
The project is a preparatory action of the soon-to-be launched Regional Development Protection Programme (RDPP) for North Africa, led by Italy and a 14-EU Member State Consortium, and funded by the European Commission.
The region of southeast Mauritania bordering Mali suffers from severe climate pressure, making natural resources scarcer every year and threatening the livelihood of the local population.
The 2012 conflict in northern Mali led to the creation of M’bera, a refugee camp on the Mauritania-Mali border, providing refuge to Malians fleeing the conflict. As of July 1st 2015, the camp was hosting some 50,000 refugees, according to UNHCR.
The camp has put considerable pressure on the already fragile environment. There is intense competition for firewood, water and pasture between the host communities and the refugees. It has also considerably increased the cost of basic items, as demand outstrips supply.
The “deactivation” of about 10,000 Mauritanian refugees, who can no longer fully benefit from assistance offered in the camp, and who should return to their home villages, has put additional pressure on the limited resources available, resulting in a rise of tensions between the three groups.
“The project aims to support host communities in the development of greater autonomy, thanks to the improvement of their agriculture and livestock capacity, as well as the development of an appropriate response to the needs created by the existence of a large population of refugees in competition for natural resources,” explained IOM project manager Momme Helly Ducros. “This is necessary to promote the creation of a peaceful and constructive dialogue between host communities, ‘deactivated’ Mauritanians and Malian refugees,” he added.