Mauritania – 1st Sitrep on the looming Crisis in the Sahel Region

Dear Partners,

Warmest greetings from Nouakchott, Mauritania!

LWF – Mauritania  Weekly Update # 1

February 6, 2012

Situation Report

The Mauritania and the Sahel Region (Mali and Senegal) are experiencing drought crisis. In 2011, it has been observed low rainfall during the planting period. This led to a significant drop in agro-pastoral production. For instance, in Mauritania the cereals production has been reduced by 48%. According to FEWS-NET and WPF report, the current drought crisis was going to negatively affect the lives of 800,000 people by early January 2012. At the present, 21% of the population are living in poor conditions, including food insecurity (less than 10% to more than 30%) and malnutrition (11%). It has been also reported an increase in prices of food items.

Since the end of January 2012, armed conflict is undergoing in the northern part of Mali. There is a fight between the Mali National Armies and the ‘’Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad’’ (MNLA) – (Touareg Rebels, probably back stopped by AQMI and Returnees from Libya). Due to this conflict, Mauritania has started to welcome in the town of Fassala (3 km from the Malian border, 60 km from East Bassikounou, and about 1,300 km from Nouakchott, the Mauritania Capital City). As per the recent report of the UN System, as of February 6, there are 9,300 Refugees in Fassala. It has been reported that 1,455 are under 5 children, 252 children are malnourished, and 60 women are pregnant. It has been noticed that the number of Refugees in Fassala has increased by 574% from January 29 (1,380 Refugees) to February 6 (9,300 Refugees).

LWF/DWS Actions

In relation of the above current situation, LWF/DWS has undertaken the following actions:

  • Prepared a preliminary ACT Appeal (with good feedback from FELM and CoS)
  • Started finalizing the full ACT Appeal (to be completed this week)
  • The LWF/DWS Hodhs Zone Coordinator visited Fassala from January 31 to February 1 for a rapid needs assessment (the Refugees need food, water, tents, blankets, clothing, latrines, medical care, etc.)
  • Regularly received updates on the Malian Refugees from LWF/DWS Mauritania local implementing partner (ARDM) and the LWF/DWS Hodhs Zone Coordinator
  • Prepositioned 30 tons of commodities (blankets, toilet kits, soup, etc.) and medical consumables to be provided to the Fassala Health Post
  • The Representative contacted Pastor Pierre Thiam, the Lutheran Church in Senegal Development Coordinator for the ACT Appeal (look for possible consideration of integrating Senegal in the Appeal – capacity building)
  • The Program Coordinator and the Emergency Specialist plan to visit the proposed ACT Appeal project location and carry out a rapid market survey (this week)

Other Stakeholders Actions

  • Made contact with the UNHCR team based in Bassikounou (this team conducted an assessment)
  • WFP and the Government of Mauritania provided 15 tons of food to the Refugees (not sufficient)
  • UN Security Unit carried out a security assessment (as summarized below)

Security Analysis

The security situation in the country remains still fragile due to the presence of AQMI in Mali. However, it is worth mentioning the efforts made by the Government of Mauritania aiming at putting an end to the presence of AQMI in Mauritania. Recently, the UN Security Unit has carried out an assessment regarding the security in regard to the response to the food insecurity in the south-eastern Mauritania. The following is the result:


Level of risks

 Level of security
Armed conflict Terrorism Social  tension Criminality Disasters
Hodh-el-Charghi Moderate High Low Minimal Moderate


Assaba, Tagant & Hodh-el-Gharbi Minimal Low Minimal Minimal Substantial


Gorgol, Brakna & Guidimaka Minimal Low Minimal Minimal Moderate


Based upon the above result, the UN Security recommended the following:

  • Respect of humanitarian principles
  • Further inform Staff on Security Operational Plan and application of security measures
  • Implement project through local partners and set up monitoring/performance framework

Some photos from Fassala (Malian Refugees) – taken by the LWF/DWS Hodhs Zone Coordinator

Malian refugees in Fassala © LWF Mauritania










Note: The Malian Refugees in Fassala settlement area. There is urgent need in terms of tents and blankets due to the current season in Mauritania (characterized by cold and dust)

Newly arrived Malian Refugees © LWF Mauritania










Note: The newly arrived Malian Refugees. As already noticed, the number of Malian Refugees in Fassala has increased by 574%  from January 29 to February 6 to a total of 9,300 refugees.

Kasongo Mutshaila

LWF Mauritania Representative

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