Mauritania: Refugees stranded in desert
MSF report calls for urgent aid effort for 70,000 Malians
Download the report: Stranded in the Desert (PDF)
The report, based on testimonies collected from over 100 refugees in Mbera refugee camp in
MSF has been working in Mauritania since the arrival of the first refugees in early 2012, and has frequently warned of the alarming consequences to the refugees’ health as a result of the appalling living conditions in Mbera camp. In November 2012 MSF conducted a retrospective nutritional mortality survey that revealed a critical nutrition situation, with mortality rates above the emergency threshold for children under two years old.
The medical situation has further worsened following an influx of 15,000 new refugees in the aftermath of the January 2013 joint French and Malian military intervention. The number of consultations in MSF’s clinics in the Mbera camp has increased from 1,500 to 2,500 per week. The number of children admitted per week for severe malnutrition has more than doubled, from 42 to 106. 85 percent of the children under treatment arrived in the camp between January and February; despite the nutritional status of the new refugees being generally good when assessed on arrival in the camp.
“These statistics show that the refugees have grown weaker whilst in the camp, the very place where they should have been receiving assistance, including correctly formulated food rations from aid organisations,” says Gray. “There has clearly been a lack of preparation for this new influx of refugees. The situation has improved in recent weeks but it is still extremely precarious and aid organisations need to maintain their humanitarian response for as long as necessary. Shelter, clean water, latrines, hygiene and food must all reach those in need, and be sustained at the minimum humanitarian standards.”
MSF runs medical and humanitarian programmes in the Malian regions of Mopti, Gao, Sikasso and