Ramadan gifts come in, but does humanitarian aid reach Black Mauritanians?

Ramadan gifts to Mauritania; does humanitarian aid ever reach the Black Mauritanian?

Rachel Brooks

April 26, 2021 

Photo credit: “110407 Mauritanian activists push for action on slavery | الناشطون الموريتانيون يطالبون بإجراءات ضد العبودية |” by Magharebia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Urdu Point reported on April 26 that the United Arab Emirates sends food aid into the struggling nation of Mauritania. The aide plane sent a package containing 49 metric tons of food to Mauritania as part of the humanitarian practices of Ramadan. Urdu Point reported that the food assistance was specifically for those suffering from the food shortages of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Urdu Point quoted Hamad Ghanem Al Mehairi, UAE Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania

“The UAE constantly seeks to provide all possible support to enhance the humanitarian response and help brotherly Arab countries in circumstances that require solidarity and cooperation to overcome the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on women and children,” said Al Mehairi. 

In this interview, Mauritanian activist Houleye Thiam spoke with Timberwolf-Phoenix LLC’s vice president Irina Tsukerman in discussion of human rights for disenfranchised Black Mauritanians.  

 

“Since the start of the pandemic, and as part of its tireless efforts to support Mauritanian healthcare workers, the UAE has sent three aid planes carrying 33.2 metric tons of medical supplies containing 352,000 testing kits and 70 ventilators benefiting 33,200 medical professionals,” he added, as he was quoted by Urdu Point. 

As the plane extended humanitarian aid to the Mauritanians affected by COVID-19, the looming shadow and question of human rights issues for Black Mauritanians hung in the air. 

On March 31, the Ohio Immigrant Alliance shared a background that called to mind issues of land slavery in Mauritania, the practice of land-grabbing by the government in an attempt to subjugate the Black Mauritanian population. With issues such as continued hereditary slavery of Black Mauritanians, and the landgrabbing crisis, there rises a question as to whether external aid, such as the UAE’s goodwill Ramadan gift to the nation, could reach the entire nation. 

Mauritania has been caught in the crossroads of major events. The separatist movement in Morocco, Polisario, has some of its roots in Mauritania.

The first Polisario, before it was taken over by the coup of extremists it is controlled by today, was first founded in a quest to fight back against the Spanish. In this interview, Irina Tsukerman speaks 1-0-1 with Bachir Dkhil, founding member of the First Polisario. Stay up to date on Morocco news, updates on Moroccan sovereignty, and the quest for making peace between Moroccans in the recognition of the Kingdom’s sovreignty and joint decisions regarding Polisario’s regional influence to date, as we continue to follow news of North Africa. 

A conversation with the Polisario Founder sheds light on today’s organization

 

“Mauritania’s continued practice of hereditary slavery often defines it in the international human rights conversation. But the government’s unabashed land-grabbing, which includes cutting off access to water resources, are additional tools used to oppress, destabilize, and literally destroy Black Mauritanian communities,” wrote the Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in the United States. 

The report then included specifics: 

“In the N’Diago area, fishing and agriculture are the primary means of survival for 10,000
Black Mauritanians. Yet the Mauritanian government is turning land and sea access over to
international corporations with a history of corruption, and taking Afro Mauritanians land and
giving it to Haratines performing the politics of divide and conquer,” wrote the network.

“Most local residents are afraid to speak up. This makes the role of Iba Sarr, president of the
southern branch of the Free Federation of Artisanal Fishing (la Federation Libre de la Peche
Artisanal), all the more critical to protecting N’Diago residents’ literal existence:
The state is creating a town [by the newly-constructed port], and it’s going to change
the area, bring in others, and limit our access to resources—and we have no
information about it. We have been here a long time, but we will get nothing. They will
take our land and our resources, and we should have been told that they are doing
this. They are not protecting us….”

“We used to have an abundance of fish, and today we have fewer fish—the conditions
have become so much scarcer. Russian fishing boats and Chinese and Turkish ships
have also been pillaging the seas. Every day we try to defend our community. The
problem is that we have powerful businessmen who are looking to exploit us and they
tell the world that Mauritania does not have a fishing tradition, but we do. . . . We want
to practice responsible fishing; our life depends on it. Our life is the sea—we have
nothing else,'” wrote the network on behalf of Black Mauritanians.