Refugees are people with marketable skills and abilities, and a strong motivation to build their own livelihoods. Allowing refugees to participate in the economy can benefit both refugees and their hosts.
The Global Compact on Refugees, affirmed by the UN General Assembly in December 2018, invites States and stakeholders to foster inclusive economic growth for host communities and refugees, and promote economic opportunities in support of host countries, including through job creation, decent work and entrepreneurship programmes benefitting host community members and refugees, with a particular focus on women and young adults.
In Mauritania, some 58,000 Malian refugees live in and around Mbera camp established in 2012 in the arid south-eastern region of Bassikounou close to the Malian border. Despite the conclusion of a peace agreement in 2015, large-scale returns of Malian refugees are not expected due to persistent violence in northern and central Mali. In 2019, the Malian refugee situation has entered its eighth year confirming its status as a protracted displacement situation. Malian refugees require responses that stretch beyond humanitarian action, and local solutions must be integrated with development initiatives. All actors in Mauritania are advocating for an engagement at the humanitarian-development nexus and call for development actors to come on board through strengthened partnerships.
The 2018-2022 UN Strategy to Strengthen the Livelihoods of Host and Refugee Communities in the Moughataa of Bassikounou provides the framework to create conditions for refugee protection and self-reliance, strengthen the resilience of host populations and support peaceful coexistence between the two communities. It is underpinned by the UNHCR study for the Identification of Economic Opportunities for the Population of Mbera Refugee Camp and the Neighbouring Host Populations, with the financial support of the European Union (EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa). The strategy is also underpinned by a joint WFP-UNHCR-ACF socio-economic profiling exercise of the refugee population and the WFP Seasonal Livelihoods Planning (SLP) exercise carried out in January 2018.
The first phase of the UN livelihood strategy focuses on Mbera camp and the villages around the camp. It aims to support the financial inclusion of refugee and host community households, diversify and consolidate their sources of income, build assets and provide for their immediate needs with dignity.
The livelihood strategy aligns interventions with the value chains identified in the UNHCR study: livestock; milk and milk products; hides and skins; arabic gum; sewing; as well as construction.
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees