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Mauritania

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to provide emergency medical care to Malian refugees and host communities in Mauritania until December 2018.

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

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: 2018

MSF returned to Mauritania in 2012, when thousands of people fled the conflict in northern Mali and settled in Mbera camp on the border between the two countries. The camp still hosts more than 50,000 refugees.* Although a peace agreement was signed in 2015, the situation remains unstable in Mali, and many people are therefore reluctant to return. 

Our teams provided medical assistance in Mbera camp, including ante- and postnatal care, family planning, obstetrics and neonatology, treatment for chronic and infectious diseases, and nutritional support. We also provided care to local communities neighbouring the refugee camp, in the towns of Bassikounou and Fassala, and surrounding villages. 

In 2018, our teams performed 190 major surgical interventions, such as caesarean sections and orthopaedic procedures, and conducted a multi-antigen vaccination campaign throughout the district, to protect children under five and women against the most common childhood diseases. 

Although the context remains volatile, the situation in Mbera and the neighbouring districts of Bassikounou and Fassala has become chronic, requiring a long-term response that focuses on the development of a sustainable public health system. For this reason, after six years of emergency and post-emergency medical interventions, we decided to hand over our activities in Mauritania to the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) in December 2018. We will continue to monitor the needs in the region and our emergency teams remain ready to intervene if required.  

*UNHCR Operational Update, December 2018

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