IOM, UNHCR Collaborate to Protect Migrant and Refugee Populations in Mauritania

Refugee and Asylum Issues

Nouakchott – Nouadhibou is a key port in Northern Mauritania where over an estimated 32,000 migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers are living. In October 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees established a joint bureau to support migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers’ access to protection and assistance services following a referral mechanism between the two UN agencies. Both agencies also carried out joint trainings to build the capacities of law enforcement authorities and strengthen migrant, refugee and asylum-seeker protection. 

Last weekend, Stefano Manservisi, Head of the European Union Delegation and Director-General for the European Commission’s International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) visited the IOM-UNHCR joint bureau.  

“Collaboration between IOM and UNHCR is the fundamental approach that we want to adopt in the management of mixed migratory flows,” said Stefano Manservisi during his visit.  

Services provided include shelter, medical assistance and referrals as well as durable solutions as part of the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programmes. 

The increasing number of migrants in Nouadhibou prompted IOM to launch its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) in November 2018 to collect data in order to better understand the needs of migrant populations in the city. Based on 544 interviews with migrants and key informants, the first DTM survey reveals that the main needs of migrants in Mauritania include better job opportunities and access to protection and health services.  

IOM is currently conducting a second round of data collection to identify gaps in protection assistance and is working with authorities on more inclusive public health policies. In December 2018, UNHCR also carried out a survey piloting a new tool for data collection and case management (SMMART) supported by a large number of protection interviews.  

Since February 2019, both UN agencies initiated a coordination panel on mixed migration to strengthen efforts, efficiency and effectiveness between all stakeholders with due regard to human rights and international conventions and agreements and continue their efforts to strengthen coordination with local authorities. 

For more information, please contact Alexandra Schmitz at IOM Mauritania, Email: or Jose Manuel Caceres at UNHCR Mauritania, Email: 

  • IOM analyst surveys a migrant in the streets of Nouadhibou for the Displacement Tracking Matrix.