IOM Supports “Strategic Diaspora Mobilization” During COVID-19 Outbreak in Mauritania

Launching event of the new project in the presence of the SG of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System and the IOM Chief of Mission in Mauritania. Photo: M.Hananni/IOM/

Nouakchott – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) this month launched a new programme tapping the socio-economic power of diaspora Mauritanians – now some 128,500 strong – that already remits over USD 1 million to their homeland weekly.

The initiative “Strategic Diaspora Mobilization” for the socio-economic development of Mauritania provides to the West African nation a new, but very familiar source of international support: overseas Mauritanians returning for short-term assignments.

With support from the IOM-EU Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, IOM Mauritania has developed since 2017 a programme to assist nationals living in Europe, the Middle East and North America.

While remittances are welcome, it is Mauritania’s overseas talent that is crucial amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. Returning medical personnel embody the importance of migration’s often overlooked “brain chain,” whereby citizens working abroad acquire expertise they share with their homelands.

"Governments recognize that professionals and skilled workers represent essential human capital for their countries of origin,” observed Dr. Boubacar Seybou, IOM Mauritania’s Chief of Mission.  “On this basis, engaging the diaspora is at the forefront of the migration and development programmes of many countries, including Mauritania."

Engaging someone, for example, like Dr Boubou Camara.

IOM supported the return of the Grenoble, France-based respirologist. Dr Camara was mobilized into a three-month mission as part of an IOM programme in collaboration with the World Health Organization to train Mauritanian health personnel on the use of specialized medical equipment, including respirators. Afterwards, Dr Camara was offered a permanent contract by WHO to continue aiding Mauritania’s COVID-19 response.

"Diaspora members are ready to help,” said the 47-year-old specialist.

To date, IOM has facilitated 20 missions of experts, including 15 health professionals playing a significant role against COVID-19, giving technical support to Mauritania’s Ministry of Health. This activity was carried out under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.

In addition, IOM has assisted four other missions conducted with diaspora members in project management, social assistance, conflict prevention and child protection. Four diaspora recruits have decided to return permanently after been offered job opportunities, which has increased interest in the program among Mauritanians abroad.

Consultation sessions with Mauritanian nationals living in France, Germany and Spain – as well as a dedicated platform, facilitate information-sharing.

"Beyond their socio-economic involvement, members of our diaspora have always kept a sense of patriotism towards Mauritania, with the welfare and development of the country remaining a priority for them,” said Abdel Kader Mohamed, advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Mauritanians abroad. “This adherence to national values is an essential element in their mobilization."

For more information, please contact Shauna Cameron, at IOM Mauritania, Tel.: +222 45 24 40 81, Email: or Moussa Tall, Senior Diaspora project assistant, Tel.: +222 267 76 461;  Email: