Management of Cross-Border Movements of Frontier Communities in Mauritania: IOM Study

By International Office of Migration (IOM)

As part of its European Union (EU)-funded project “Strengthening border management in Mauritania - the involvement of the Gendarmerie,” IOM this week organized a workshop in Nouakchott presenting a feasibility study on how to manage the cross-border movement of border communities.

The aim of the study was to identify a system that could facilitate the movement of residents of border communities, without compromising the security of the country. Attendees at the workshop included representatives of the Ministry of Interior and Decentralization, the Police and Gendarmerie, the European Union and other governmental partners in border management.

Mauritania and Senegal share an 850 km border running the length of the Senegal River. “Although hundreds of Senegalese border residents cross the river every day for economic, family or social reasons, there is no system in place on the Mauritanian side to facilitate this in an efficient, secure manner,” said IOM Mauritania Chief of Mission Anke Strauss.

Border residents create additional work at the border posts, which slows the movement of other travellers. Additionally, if Mauritanian border officers spent less time verifying the identity of Senegalese border residents, they would also be able to spend more time checking other travellers, thus improving security, notes Strauss.

The feasibility study looked at three border management options to be presented to the governments of Mauritania, Senegal and Mali in the coming weeks.

The first option would involve border residents giving their identity card to Mauritanian borders officers, who would keep it until the resident re-crosses the border to return to Senegal. The second would involve the creation of a dedicated border resident identity card. The third would use pre-registered biometric information to enable residents to enter and leave Mauritanian territory.