Mauritanian Coast Guard and Civil Protection officers assist migrants intercepted at sea/IOM Mauritania
Mauritanian Coast Guard and Civil Protection officers assist migrants intercepted at sea/IOM Mauritania

Nouadhibou – Mauritania is both a transit and destination country for migrants, due to its geographical position as a transitional point between sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb in the western part. This explains the strong presence of migrant communities in Nouadhibou, the economic capital and one of its two main cities, but also accounts for the country’s proneness to arrivals, departures and shipwrecks of migrants seeking to reach the north-western part of the continent (Canary Islands, Moroccan cities, etc.).

According to the operation registers of the International Organisation for Migration and its partner the French Red Cross (CRF), from October 2020 to October 2021, about 1500 migrants were rescued following distress at sea. With a view to better structuring migrant assistance operations during disembarkations at sea, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were developed under the leadership of the Ministry of the Interior and Decentralization (MIDEC), with the technical support of IOM and all other actors involved in disembarkation operations, including the Mauritanian Coast Guard, Ministry of Social Affairs, Childhood and Family, etc.

The simulation exercise carried out is thus an opportunity for the operational units to familiarize themselves with these procedures and test them. From 26 to 28 September, during the three-day simulation exercise, participants were invited to address difficult cases of people in extremely vulnerable situations, such as unaccompanied children, injured irregular migrants, potential victims of trafficking, raped women and girls, asylum seekers, people without identification documents, etc.

“Thanks to this simulation, the Mauritanian authorities, with the technical support of IOM, were able to assess the relevance and operational efficiency of these SOPs, better understand the roles of each actor and distribution of tasks and responsibilities to provide better assistance to disembarked persons,” said Boubacar Seybou, IOM Chief of Mission in Mauritania. “It will enhance the preparedness of actors involved in migration and border management and allow for the development of further recommendations that will follow,” he added. The SOPs, after taking into account the recommendations from lessons learned, were thus approved by all stakeholders.

This activity is part of the implementation of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration project funded by the European Union, which aims at strengthening the Mauritanian Government’s capacity in the field of migration management.

For more information, please contact: Peng Pei,