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Mauritania denies plans to settle irregular migrants

February 21, 2024 at 8:44 am

Spanish Civil guards pull a migrant into an inflatable boat after he arrived swimming to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from neighbouring Morocco on May 17, 2021 [Antonio Sempere /AFP via Getty Images]

Mauritania yesterday denied reports it planned to settle irregular migrants in the country amid talks of a deal with the European Union (EU), Anadolu reported.

“Mauritania will not be an alternative homeland for immigrants,” the Mauritanian Interior Ministry said in a statement, describing reports of plans to make Mauritania “an alternative homeland for settling, receiving or sheltering foreign migrants” as “completely baseless rumours”.

The ministry explained that migration talks with the EU aim to “bridge views” for a “balanced and fair agreement that guarantees respect for the sovereignty and common interests of both parties”, consistent with the charters, systems and laws in force within the framework of international migration treaties and agreements.

On Monday, negotiations began in Nouakchott between Mauritanian and EU officials aimed at confronting irregular migration through the country to Europe.

On 8 February, a European delegation, which included Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, held negotiations in Nouakchott on irregular migration issues.

At the conclusion of their visit, the European officials announced the provision of aid worth €522 million ($564 million) to Mauritania in order to enhance its economic development and combat irregular migration.

The talks have sparked controversy and fears by politicians and activists that they would be part of a “settlement deal for migrants in Mauritania.”

Mauritania is a major crossing point for African migrants wishing to make their way to Europe and the United States.

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