Why Mauritania is Attracting Migrants from Sahel Countries Featured

By Gamal Khattab January 31, 2024 1082



Increasing Refugees in Mauritania:

  • Security tensions and military coups have led to a rise in refugees from the Sahel region.
  • "Ambra Camp" in Hodh Al-Sharqi, home to over 100,000 refugees from Mali, is a significant source of refuge.
  • Authorities in Nouakchott are calling for international partners to assist in resettling migrants.

Poverty in Mauritania:

  • 56.9% of the population lives in poverty due to lack of education, health, living conditions, and employment opportunities.
  • The United Nations World Food Program anticipates over 100,000 additional refugees from northern Mali due to the Azawad movements' conflict with the Malian government.

Mauritania as an Alternative Homeland:

  • President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani reports hosting 100,000 refugees from Mali alone.
  • Partnership Support and Migrant Integration:
  • Mauritanian Minister of Economy Abdelkader Ould Mohamed Saleh seeks $240 million to provide basic conditions for integration.
  • Education for refugees is a priority to establish a peace culture and avoid violence.


  • Refugees pose a threat to Mauritanian security and stability.
  • The influx of refugees could potentially cause a humanitarian disaster.

The Ambra Camp: A Refuge for Malian Refugees

In Mauritania, there is a camp called Ambra that is home to over 100,000 refugees from Mali. These refugees had to leave their homeland because of dangerous security conditions. The camp is located in the state of Hodh Al-Sharqi, about 1,500 kilometers east of the capital city, Nouakchott.

The Increase in Migrants

Mauritania has seen an increase in migrants from the Sahel countries, which has become a concern for the authorities. These migrants are leaving their countries due to security tensions caused by military coups and armed movements. The number of migrants from the Sahel countries in Mauritania has gone up from 57,000 in 2019 to over 112,000 in 2023.

Challenges Faced by Mauritania

Mauritania is already facing challenges like poverty, lack of education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. The influx of migrants from the Sahel region is making these challenges worse. The government of Mauritania is worried about the impact on crime, security, and stability. They have asked for help from international partners to address these issues.

Support from International Organizations

Mauritania has sought support from organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme. The European Union has also provided financial support to help Mauritania absorb refugees and provide them with livelihoods. These organizations are working together to provide humanitarian aid and support education for refugees.

Fears of Chaos

Mauritania is trying to integrate migrants into society by providing training, job opportunities, and education. They are also strengthening border control to manage the flow of migrants. However, the government is concerned about the security and stability of the country. They have accused some African immigrants of participating in acts of violence and sabotage. The large influx of refugees also makes it difficult to identify potential terrorists.

Challenges in Hodh Al-Sharqi

In the state of Hodh Al-Sharqi, where the Ambra camp is located, the influx of refugees has put a strain on resources. The mayor of the municipality has expressed concerns about a potential humanitarian disaster. The indigenous population is being affected as the refugees compete for water and pasture areas. Incidents have also occurred between militants from Mali and Mauritanian citizens on the border.

Working Towards Stability

The government of Mauritania is working to create stability in the shared border areas between Mali and Mauritania. They want to promote interconnection between residents and secure the desert borders that are threatened by armed groups.