Mauritania Declares War On Human Trafficking, Arms Smuggling

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As most countries in the Sahel region, Mauritania is facing multiple challenges regarding human trafficking, drug, terrorism threat, and arm smuggling as well as unaccompanied minor migrants. To therefore, tackle these problematics in a holistic approach, integrated border management is turning to be the most appropriated answer.

Saghair Haimdon, the Mayor of Bousteila, a village located at the border between Mauritania and Mali, says no development can be attained without security. It is with safe borders that we can guarantee the security of cross-border communities.

To facilitate and secure cross-border movements of communities, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency, inaugurated in Bousteila the construction of the 22nd land border posts built by the migration agency since 2010 (of the 47 official border crossing points), thanks to the support of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).

Being at the crossroads between Mauritania and Mali, Bousteila could be used as a strategic point of entry in the region.

Once a week, Bousteila serves as a meeting point for farmers, cattle breeders and other tradespeople from each side of the border for the weekly market. The land border post facilitates safe movements and allows for a more accurate data collection regarding movement on the border.

While contributing to the economic development of communities living in border areas, the frequent cross-border movements can pose a danger to local communities and migrants, specifically when these movements are done in a disorderly manner.

Prior to the inauguration, IOM also conducted a campaign to sensitize local populations, with an emphasis on children, on the meaning of borders, increased security and the presence of migrants in their communities.

Following those sessions of sensitisation Bousteila’s high school students presented a short play illustrating comradery and support they have for their “next door neighbors”, as they referred to migrants coming from Mali.

“I think land border posts are made so no one gets lost or hurt and everyone travels safely”, said 13-year-old Mohamed Lemine SaadBouh, a student at Bousteila’s local high school and actor in the play.

Mauritania has more than 5,000 kilometers of land borders, the vast majority of which are located far from major roads and urban areas. In a bit to strengthen collaboration between border communities and security forces, “village committees” were established by IOM.

Committees, established in villages around border posts, have improved security in these areas by strengthening relationships between villages and border officials. The youths are sensitized on the importance of border posts for the safe movement of communities through community meeting and discussions.

Finally, the committees also act as mediator between cross-border communities, thus contributing to the resolution of conflicts over natural resources between communities.

In December, three new posts built by IOM were delivered to the gendarmerie. Two others are currently under construction in Diama and N’Bekeit Lawach and will be delivered in 2020.

These border posts were financed by the EUTF through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.

These achievements are the fruit of the implementation of the Integrated Border Management Strategy, adopted by the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 2015 and developed by IOM. This strategy covers all fields relevant to strengthening border management, including organisational and operational, legal, human resources, structural and equipment as well as financial frameworks.

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