Located in the desolate southeast of Mauritania, the Mbera refugee camp is home to some 70,000 Malian refugees fleeing conflict in their homeland. As conflict engulfs ever more of the Sahel, prospects for their return home seem dim.
An aerial view of Bassikounou in southeastern Mauritania, the staging point for humanitarian operations at the Mbera refugee camp, on 28 February 2013.
An aerial view of Bassikounou in southeastern Mauritania, the staging point for humanitarian operations at the Mbera refugee camp, on 28 February 2013.
A sandstorm beginning at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 11 March 2013.
A sandstorm beginning at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 11 March 2013.
Mama Walet Mohammed waiting for a friend in the triage tent at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) field hospital at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in southeastern Mauritania.
Mama Walet Mohammed waiting for a friend in the triage tent at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) field hospital at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in southeastern Mauritania.
Almouktar Ag Hanou and his family's refugee identity cards indicate that they were registered at the unchr welcome facility at the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 26 November 2012. Fifteen weeks later, on 10 March 2013 they have still not received a tent in which to live. According to Almouktar, he is repeatedly being told, "there are no tents, check again soon."
Almouktar Ag Hanou and his family's refugee identity cards indicate that they were registered at the unchr welcome facility at the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 26 November 2012. Fifteen weeks later, on 10 March 2013 they have still not received a tent in which to live. According to Almouktar, he is repeatedly being told, "there are no tents, check again soon."
A girl and her mother sweep the area around their tent at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.
A girl and her mother sweep the area around their tent at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.
A man skins a goat before selling the meat in a roadside stall at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013. He says he will make 2000 - 3000 Ougiya profit by the end of the day.
A man skins a goat before selling the meat in a roadside stall at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013. He says he will make 2000 - 3000 Ougiya profit by the end of the day.
People collecting water at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013. Inadequate supplies of water, particularly in the new areas of the camp, are placing additional pressure on water points such as this one, leading to conflict.
People collecting water at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013. Inadequate supplies of water, particularly in the new areas of the camp, are placing additional pressure on water points such as this one, leading to conflict.
A truck loaded with Malian refugees and their meagre belongings sits parked in the heat on the edge of the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania while it waits for the rest of the convoy to catch up, on 6 March 2013. According to local NGO, ALPD, 825 refugees arrived in this convoy, packed into three trucks and an assortment of four wheel drive pick-ups.
A truck loaded with Malian refugees and their meagre belongings sits parked in the heat on the edge of the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania while it waits for the rest of the convoy to catch up, on 6 March 2013. According to local NGO, ALPD, 825 refugees arrived in this convoy, packed into three trucks and an assortment of four wheel drive pick-ups.
A mother and her daughter, part of a convoy of Malian refugees making their way to the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania, sit packed into the back seat of a double cab pick-up with eight other people as they wait at the edge of the camp for the rest of the convoy to catch up on 6 March 2013. According to local NGO, ALPD, 825 refugees arrived in this convoy, packed into three trucks and an assortment of four wheel drive pick-ups.
A mother and her daughter, part of a convoy of Malian refugees making their way to the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania, sit packed into the back seat of a double cab pick-up with eight other people as they wait at the edge of the camp for the rest of the convoy to catch up on 6 March 2013. According to local NGO, ALPD, 825 refugees arrived in this convoy, packed into three trucks and an assortment of four wheel drive pick-ups.
Malian refugee, Alatek Ag Ntalha, says he has been in the newest section of the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania for six days, after a month in a large, makeshift communal tent waiting to be allocated a living space for his family. As of 2 March 2013 there were no latrines and no water points in this section of the camp, necessitating a long journey to an older section of the camp to fetch water. ntalha says without donkeys there is no way to bring the water back, and that as a result he and his family have been without water for two days.
Malian refugee, Alatek Ag Ntalha, says he has been in the newest section of the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania for six days, after a month in a large, makeshift communal tent waiting to be allocated a living space for his family. As of 2 March 2013 there were no latrines and no water points in this section of the camp, necessitating a long journey to an older section of the camp to fetch water. ntalha says without donkeys there is no way to bring the water back, and that as a result he and his family have been without water for two days.
A woman outside her tent at at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013.
A woman outside her tent at at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013.
Children playing football at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013.
Children playing football at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013.
A herd of goats being driven out to graze on the edge of the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania. At the time, the camp was home to 80 000 Malian refugees fleeing civil strife in their own country.
A herd of goats being driven out to graze on the edge of the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania. At the time, the camp was home to 80 000 Malian refugees fleeing civil strife in their own country.
A food distribution queue at the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania on 1 March 2013.
A food distribution queue at the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania on 1 March 2013.
The Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees on 2 March 2013.
The Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees on 2 March 2013.
A man in a food distribution queue at the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 1 March 2013.
A man in a food distribution queue at the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 1 March 2013.
Photographs from a life left behind: Boudama Ould Sadeck (at far left) was forced to abandon his English degree course and university life in Bamako, Mali when his family fled to Mauritania to escape the conflict. He now lives in a in a tent and works for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as a water and sanitation logistics assistant at a health centre in the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania.
Photographs from a life left behind: Boudama Ould Sadeck (at far left) was forced to abandon his English degree course and university life in Bamako, Mali when his family fled to Mauritania to escape the conflict. He now lives in a in a tent and works for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as a water and sanitation logistics assistant at a health centre in the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania.
A refugee pours cups of strong, sweet tea for his family early in the morning at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013. Brewed several times a day, the tea is always taken in threes.
A refugee pours cups of strong, sweet tea for his family early in the morning at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013. Brewed several times a day, the tea is always taken in threes.
Mohamedoun Ag Malou (90) in triage at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013. In addition to eyesight difficulties, he is seeking treatment for respiratory difficulty and vomiting.
Mohamedoun Ag Malou (90) in triage at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013. In addition to eyesight difficulties, he is seeking treatment for respiratory difficulty and vomiting.
A healthy baby boy moments after he was born at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania, on 5 March 2013. (In keeping with tradition, the baby will not be named until he is a week old.)
A healthy baby boy moments after he was born at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania, on 5 March 2013. (In keeping with tradition, the baby will not be named until he is a week old.)
An elderly woman watches over her terminally ill husband at a government health centre supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bassikounou in southeastern Mauritania on 1 March 2013.
An elderly woman watches over her terminally ill husband at a government health centre supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bassikounou in southeastern Mauritania on 1 March 2013.
Aichatou Abdulraman and her son, Ahamad Ibrahim (19 months) who was severely burned by hot liquid, at a government health centre supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bassikounou in southeastern Mauritania on 1 March 2013. Before Ahamad was brought to MSF, sand and a traditional mixtures of herbs had been poured on the burn, exacerbating the injury. The child was referred from the MSF base at the Mbera refugee camp, and will be treated at a newly established MSF surgical unit.
Aichatou Abdulraman and her son, Ahamad Ibrahim (19 months) who was severely burned by hot liquid, at a government health centre supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bassikounou in southeastern Mauritania on 1 March 2013. Before Ahamad was brought to MSF, sand and a traditional mixtures of herbs had been poured on the burn, exacerbating the injury. The child was referred from the MSF base at the Mbera refugee camp, and will be treated at a newly established MSF surgical unit.
Mothers and their children, wives of the same husband, with their children soon after waking up at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013.
Mothers and their children, wives of the same husband, with their children soon after waking up at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 2 March 2013.
The triage tent at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.
The triage tent at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.
A baby, estimated to be two months premature, being examined by a doctor at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.
A baby, estimated to be two months premature, being examined by a doctor at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.
Mohamedoun Ag Malou (90) standing on the scales in triage at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013. In addition to eyesight difficulties, he is seeking treatment for respiratory difficulty and vomiting.
Mohamedoun Ag Malou (90) standing on the scales in triage at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013. In addition to eyesight difficulties, he is seeking treatment for respiratory difficulty and vomiting.
Attaye Ag Mohamed, an elderly refugee living alone, pictured on 11 March 2013 beside the small shelter in which he lives at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania. His refugee card shows that he was registered at the camp on 26 November 2012, but 15 weeks later he has still not received a tent in which to live. Unable to fend for himself, he is fortunate that his neighbours are kindly and look after him - they say he receives no support from NGOs in the camp.
Attaye Ag Mohamed, an elderly refugee living alone, pictured on 11 March 2013 beside the small shelter in which he lives at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania. His refugee card shows that he was registered at the camp on 26 November 2012, but 15 weeks later he has still not received a tent in which to live. Unable to fend for himself, he is fortunate that his neighbours are kindly and look after him - they say he receives no support from NGOs in the camp.
A "no guns" sign is seen on the windscreen of a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) vehicle as it makes its way along dusty tracks towards the the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania at dawn on 5 March 2013.
A "no guns" sign is seen on the windscreen of a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) vehicle as it makes its way along dusty tracks towards the the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania at dawn on 5 March 2013.
The clasped hands of a refugee who arrived in one of the vehicle at the head of a convoy as he sleeps in the shade of a truck while waiting for the rest of the convoy to catch up. As he sleeps, the desert winds slowly cover him in sand. According to local ngo, ALPD, 825 refugees arrived in this convoy, packed into three trucks and an assortment of four wheel drive pick-ups.
The clasped hands of a refugee who arrived in one of the vehicle at the head of a convoy as he sleeps in the shade of a truck while waiting for the rest of the convoy to catch up. As he sleeps, the desert winds slowly cover him in sand. According to local ngo, ALPD, 825 refugees arrived in this convoy, packed into three trucks and an assortment of four wheel drive pick-ups.
A relative accompanying a patient at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre in the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.
A relative accompanying a patient at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health centre in the Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania on 3 March 2013.

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