From the Canadian Government’s Travel Advice website

Safety and security

Northern and eastern Mauritania (see Advisory)

Extremist groups and armed smugglers are active in Mauritania’s northern and eastern areas and there is a high risk of banditry and kidnapping. Armed Tuareg rebels are active in the northern area beyond the Oualata–Tichit–Ouadane–Zouérat line. Attacks and thefts of personal belongings and vehicles have occurred.

Military zone

The Defense Ministry of Mauritania has established a military zone in the north-east of the country to which civilian access is forbidden. The military zone is located between Cheggat in the north-east; Ain Bentili, in the north-ouest; Dhar Tichitt in the south-ouest; and, Lemreyye in the south-east. The Mauritanian Minister of Defense has publicly warned that any individual who enters the area will be treated as a military target.


There is a threat of terrorism. Targets could include:

  • government buildings
  • places of worship
  • schools
  • transportation hubs
  • public areas such as restaurants, shopping centres, markets, hotels and sites frequented by foreigners.

Western interests may be particularly targeted. Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places. Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.

Mauritania’s borders in the Sahel region are porous, and terrorists operate in those border regions and the interior.


There is a high risk of kidnapping in Mauritania, and Westerners are a preferred target. Hostages have been detained for several months before being released. Be particularly cautious in areas bordering Western Sahara and Mali.

To lessen your risk of being kidnapped, travel with a reputable escort familiar with the country. Use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules when moving from one place to another. Exercise high personal security awareness at all times, and monitor local developments.


Petty crime such as pickpocketing, theft and residential and vehicle break-ins occurs, as does assault. Avoid unpatrolled beaches at all times because of the risk of banditry and carjacking. Avoid beaches and the Cinquième (fifth) district in Nouakchott after dark.

Travel in groups, remain alert and ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.


Demonstrations occur, particularly on Fridays, and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can significantly disrupt traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.

A public referendum on proposed amendments to the constitution is scheduled for August 5, 2017. There could be demonstrations leading up to and following the referendum.

Women’s safety

Women have been verbally harassed and physically assaulted. Women should travel in groups and avoid travelling alone at night. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information for Canadian women.

Women have been detained when reporting sexual assault, as they must prove that the sex was not consensual to avoid being charged. Mauritania’s laws criminalize extramarital sex (see Laws and customs).

Desert travel

If you must travel to remote desert areas, you will experience extreme climate and isolation. Travel in convoys, be accompanied by an experienced guide, remain on well-used tracks and carry sufficient supplies. Seek the advice of local authorities before travelling, and leave an itinerary with family and friends.

Border crossings

There are two main border areas in Mauritania: at the northeastern border with Western Sahara and the southwestern border with Senegal.

The border crossing into Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara leads into a buffer zone, and there is no paved or well-marked road between the two border controls. There are unexploded landmines in the 20-30 km-wide area between Mauritania and Western Sahara. Landmines can shift with the movement of sand and dunes. Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the border regions of Western Sahara.

The two main land border crossings into Senegal are located at Diama and Rosso. Pedestrians and vehicles cross over the dam at Diama and by ferry at Rosso. The road leading to Diama may be impassable during the rainy season. Long delays at the border are common. Ferry crossings at Rosso are available only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Do not cross the Senegal River by pirogue (small boat) as it is illegal and dangerous.

Road safety

Road conditions are generally fair to poor. There are four major roads in the country from Nouakchott: N1 toward Atar, N2 along the coast toward the North (Nouadibou, Western Sahara and Morocco), N3 toward Néma and N4 along the coast toward the South (Rosso and Senegal). Most other roads are unpaved sand tracks.

Drivers rarely respect traffic laws and regulations. Drifting sand and dunes may occasionally force vehicles off the roads. Roaming animals, bush taxis, poor driving habits and poorly maintained vehicles frequently cause accidents. Roadside assistance is non-existent. Wear seatbelts at all times. Avoid driving at night.

Rent vehicles with drivers. In the event of an accident or vehicle breakdown, the driver and rental company will be held responsible. If the vehicle is rented without a driver, the person renting the vehicle will be held responsible.

In the event of an accident, a police report must be filed. Should an accident result in injury or death, drivers are detained until a judge determines responsibility.

Police conduct routine roadblocks in major cities such as Nouakchott. They may ask for proof of identity and a driver’s licence.

Public transportation is generally unsafe and unreliable.

Rail travel

Passenger rail service operates between Nouadhibou and Zouérat. Book in advance.

Air travel

The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.



from Country Advice and Advisories updated in the last 24 hours, which can be found at:

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