Listen: Top UN official in Mauritania dispels misconceptions over slavery, womens rights
"Supporting Mauritania's efforts to protect eastern border from jihadists and other destabilizing elements is just one aspect of the work in this quiet corner of North Africa. That's according to U N Resident Coordinator for Mauritania Anthony or Hemming Amar who oversees the organization's operations nations to help the country realise sustainable development economic growth and other goals. Mr Obama was in New York recently and spoke to Dan. Penn about UN assistance in Mauritania. And the need to clear the air over negative reports about slavery and gender equality. Most people don't hear much about Morton. Yeah of course. It's quiet and sometimes when we hear about more tedious usually mostly negative slavery. Those kinds of things. There are some transformative initiatives going on in the country which needs to be understood and also supported. And does this way you went comes in and before we begin maybe you can tell us a resin coordinator Benita. What exactly is that? What do you do there well us? The title indicates We coordinate the UN or personnel support to the country and We D- reforms. We also I also secretary general so we do take on issues that we didn't take on board previously like some of the political issues but the main focus is to make sure that the UN programming response today as DVD's in pefect alarming to support the government's priorities. Thank you very much. And you've mentioned the SDG's the sustainable development goals what are some of the major ones that Mauritania is working on. Mauritania is a very big country about one million square kilometers. Four point four million people. It's straddles the senator Gary of Abass. In all the way to the Suhel to the desert in the north there are four men issues I think that President Tool Martinez Development. In which you entrust to support one of them's the the whole security issue Martinis the Western Frontier Molly. So the jihadism terrorism We do provide support to make sure that at least Martinez offset bulwark to what is happening. And also to be able to influence positively. What is happening on this border The second bit is the holes social sector support programs that we bring to bear education health. National reconciliation those kinds of things. And then to Ed category is the government support and four elementary economics Davidge vacation Growth and obviously is equal distribution for every Mauritanian to also benefit from economic growth. I usually also talk about environment back. It's in a way President and all the foyer is that I mentioned The economic base is on the environment agriculture extract to use those things but yes environment is also a very important aspect of the UN support you mentioned the UN helping Mauritania to sort of be a bulwark against any sort of. I guess she had a store extremist elements. I guess coming from Mali or other parts of the Suhel is the country impacted as it is now by any terrorist activities No the last in fact terrorist incident. A country country is more than ten years old but since then the government actually adopted some what I call strategic interventions to make sure that doesn't happen again one of them is a decentralisation program does the president speaks about it most of the time that you know countries in that part of Africa have to bring seven assist population and to make depletion feel like they belong they have access to the administration dot com. Talk to people so education. Walter those kinds of things. You know Decentralized government systems and that is working obviously also beefed up security. If you hope you have on your student board which is under CVS security threats than you have to do something so they've also restarted the army. Let me to be able to respond to this kind of threats. And the ad I emphasise million economic development Mauritania depends on agriculture pastoralism. MM So whatever that could be done to make sure that dip with have some economic gains and not to think about terrorism that sort of thing so so fights nights working and because there's also small country Very strong social relationships networks which I also helps the citing keeping together and now at the outset you mentioned you know when I said American you. It's a quiet place we don't hear too much about it and you've mentioned in the past. It was about negative things. Maybe we can talk about but some of those in the steps of the country has taken or is taking together with the support of the UN in overcoming and continuing that progress on Fox walks. Can I think Research I saw a good opportunity to Claire on Mauritania. I think Mauritania is to be topical. Last which is the sub-regional grouping it was forced to leave because it was the only country. Eddie have laws against slavery But some of them it has get laws against livery and it has tribe NAS which track kisses that comes to his attention and that sort of thing so slavery something which is supported by state or institutions is not the case but obviously in in some of the media it's slavery pervades. What really is the issue in the country moment is the sequester slavery and you could could be free? But if you're comical independent on the person who used to own you of your sleep yongle five and so on and so forth and and so the government does acknowledges that There are some of these issues and the present government basically costs four. Aw Proletariat is to make sure that some of these things transformed emphasis on the governance rule of law areas Emphasis on national reconciliation emphasis assists on economic growth that benefits everybody and then obviously emphasis on social aspects and they have a big program Kota the moon. The moon base. Kelly's associate transfer Francois Program which the president has taken on more and essentially enlarging it to make sure that that autonomy that to break the links between former slaves and your masters could actually become a reality that being said of your sleep when you have the big country like Martina. There are certain things which will be happening and I saluted corners of the country. I think the. US government does report on slavery and trafficking some of these issues and Martinez. Three BIS scully. meaning that there are a lot of things to do that. I think the government is governed side of that. And it's doing what it can to make sure that it's in the good books good neighborliness with Yadda companies have conform to international norms. critise and everything that it has signed onto of course he one of the important areas for the UN in particular for the secretary general is gender equality and how is the country Fairing in that respect Dr West to go I think generally in Africa and I would even say generally around the world agenda qualities issue So when you have on Islamic republic which also fuses out say courtrai traditions. What some of the normative things that are required because as part of your body that you win you're allowed that it takes a little more time together but that being said I think The government US keen on making sure that they're supposed division Mauritania's hard women Republic in the sixties and so the question becomes really continuing that trend and making sure that you have woman in in good positions women who come to role models and and also to work on transforming also. I would say some of the mindsets that people do not just accept what Khartoum tradition sees so month's Roland also to compete in solve the modern spaces. It's happening it's happening very slowly. You went suppose that at advocacy or programs. We tried to do that. Also intensify recruitments We try to do that. Intensify intentioned programs in terms of talking to young female outdoors at schools a To let them understand what is available in the world. There is no law in Mauritania which prescribes women from ascribing to be anything including being the president. So it's just a metro for encouraging open indoors and providing them the avenues that will allow them to see that it can seize opportunities and just conform to traditional and Cortra- mindsets."