Shelter Centers for Migrants Drive Increasing Anger in Mauritania

Shelter Centers for Migrants Drive Increasing Anger in Mauritania

An approaching deal on migration between Mauritania and the European Union continues to raise concerns among Mauritanians, especially after posts on social media warned that the new agreement could turn the country into a large detention camp for migrants deported from Europe.

On Wednesday, the Mauritanian government strongly denied the claims.

Government spokesperson Ould Chrougha said that Mauritania will not be a country of resettlement for migrants.

He considered that rumors circulating about the migration agreement between Mauritania and the EU have no goal but to intimidate citizens.

The concerns among Mauritanians came amidst meetings held in the past 10 days between the Interior Ministry in Nouakchott and an EU delegation to reach a draft joint declaration on migration. The new deal is expected to be signed in Nouakchott early this month, the Mauritanian government announced a few days ago.

On Wednesday, the government spokesperson revealed that Mauritania was the side that demanded the establishment of a cooperative framework with the EU on migration due to its geographical location and regional conditions, adding that the discussion is still ongoing.

Chrougha pointed out that since 2003, Mauritania had an agreement with Spain to manage migration. He said that for objective reasons, it called for canceling or updating this agreement, which the two parties have begun working on.

As part of the 2003 agreement, Spain would send civil guards to help the Mauritanian authorities patrol the coast and conduct interdiction operations at sea to limit irregular migration flows from west African countries, including Mauritania, to the Canary Islands.

It was clear from Chrougha’s comments that Mauritania aims to conclude an agreement on migration with the EU that serves the country’s interests. Mauritania bears heavy costs due to the waves of illegal migrants and refugees who fled a renewed outbreak of violence in neighboring Mali.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Nouakchott has lately adopted a new approach to manage the migration file.

It wants to push Europeans to shoulder part of the burden of fighting migration.

This new policy was particularly adopted after a statistic on foreigners conducted by Mauritanian authorities last year, revealed “worrying” figures.

The figures even prompted President Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani to address the issue during a meeting with a high-ranking European delegation in Nouakchott a few days ago.

The President affirmed that “Mauritania was previously a transit country for migrants. However, it is starting to turn into a permanent country of residence.”

Mauritanian Interior Minister Mohamed Ahmed Ould Mohamed Lemine also addressed the issue during a meeting of Arab Interior Ministers.

He said that Mauritania receives tens of thousands of refugees from Mali, and waves of illegal migrants coming from sub-Saharan countries dreaming of a better life in Europe. He said his country is paying a high cost for hosting those refugees.

Although the government is exerting efforts to address the migration file, Mauritanians still fear that their country would turn into a large detention camp for migrants deported from Europe. These concerns drove lately a flood of fake news across social media platforms.

And while officials repeatedly deny the presence of any migration camps in the country, some local movements are still not convinced.

Lately, the Kafana opposition movement called for a protest against any deal between Mauritania and the EU, calling it a “deal to naturalize migrants in Mauritania.”

Source » msn