IOM this week started a joint training session for Malian and Mauritanian border police officers in Sélibaby, southern Mauritania.
The training is part of a Japanese-funded IOM project: "Enhancing the collective capacity for managing borders and for protecting border communities between Mauritania and Mali".
It is designed to improve the security of vulnerable border areas between the two countries by enhancing their border management capacity. It also seeks to facilitate greater bilateral cooperation between the two governments and wider engagement of the local population living in border areas.
The 10-day workshop will provide 18 Malian and Mauritanian police officers with essential border control skills, including travel-document examination. Trainees also will learn specific skills needed to conduct interviews with victims of trafficking, while respecting their need for sensitivity, confidentiality and non-discrimination.
Mauritania and Mali share a long, porous border that is difficult to control. Transnational threats, including terrorism, organized crime and illegal migration, remain ongoing concerns in the region.
The training follows previous workshops earlier this year in Bamako, Mali's capital, and Ayoûn el-Atroûs, a Mauritanian town close to the Malian border.
By the end of the year, the project aims to provide training to a total of 130 Malian and 150 Mauritanian border police officers.
The curriculum emphasizes international human rights norms. It highlights the need for protection of vulnerable groups, ensuring that their rights are not compromised by measures to combat terrorism and trans-border crime.
Bringing together police officials from both sides of the border is a key aspect of this training. In addition to learning new skills and sharing experience, the participants build mutual trust and contacts that will last for years to come.
Malian participants at the Sélibaby workshop are from the Kayes region. Working at checkpoints on the Mauritanian border, they benefit from establishing contacts and better communication with their colleagues on the other side of the border.
Before the workshops, Mauritanian and Malian trainers participated in a three-week training course in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, as a part of a regional project also financed by the Government of Japan: "Coordinated Border Management in Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso".
The course was facilitated by experts from EUCAP Sahel Mali, a European Union civilian mission in Bamako that provides training and strategic advice to the Malian security sector.