A monitoring operation unlike any other exists on Mauritania’s borders. Armed troops on the back of a dromedary patrol the sand dunes in a swinging and airy beat. Méharistes is the name given to them.
The Mehari National Guard section of the armed forces dispatches camel-riding cops to meet with the populace, like in the instance of Achemim. The easiest way to go across Mauritania’s Sahara desert may be to ride camels with these police officers dressed in traditional garb. The 300 personnel patrol rural areas bordering Mali as part of a regional effort to combat terrorist groups. Their objective is to maintain peace and security in the Sahel, a troubled region near Mali’s border that has been designated as a red zone.
In Mali and Niger, Islamist militants are entrenched in the desert and routinely engage in guerrilla and terrorist operations. Camel patrols have a strategic edge over the army’s 4×4 armored vehicles, which generate a lot of noise and, most importantly, produce a lot of dust that can be seen for miles.
The European Union (EU) has undertaken the building of solar-powered water pumps to aid the people. The guards who are stationed at these facilities on a daily basis must win the public’s trust. Islamist organizations in neighboring countries have taken advantage of the lack of a state to enter towns and settle there, funding schools and hospitals.
Mauritanians are unsurprised by the usage of camels, as camels are an important part of the culture of numerous families in the nation. Camels are a state symbol as well.
However, the locals were surprised when the EU presented Mauritania with 250 camels in 2019 as part of its efforts to tackle the danger of terrorists and strengthen border security in the Sahel country. Locals in the town of Achemim, in an eastern area bordering Mali, were amused by the animals’ presence, which they believed was unusual considering that their nation is known for its big camel population. Hundreds of comments and laugh emojis were left on a Facebook post by the Al-Akhbar news agency. Hundreds of comments and laugh emojis were left on a Facebook post by the Al-Akhbar news agency after the gift. The post read “They came as a gift from Europe, but they were always here?”
According to local media, the camel-back units have been around for almost a century, but they have just lately been sent to distant border areas. The military has touted its ability to deploy quickly in the desert environment as an edge over other border patrols.
While proficient in battle, these troops do not restrict their activities to combat. They play a supporting role as well. The devices have been used for surveillance, information collection, and cleanliness and education projects.
The nomadic group assists the public by not only teaching but also educating and raising awareness about health issues. They have been given the duty of focusing on everything related to the local development of villages or nomadic camps.
In recent years, Islamist assaults have targeted Mauritania, as well as other Sahel countries. The nation shares a 2,000-kilometer border with Mali, and the authorities are particularly concerned about the rural border areas, where state authority has weakened and a terrorist threat has grown.
There are presently two command posts for the Mehari National Gard, one of which is at Achemim. They aim to establish more facilities in the city, with funding from the European Union, that will be able to teach up to 320 individuals.
The méharistes is an example of a strategy that combines security with infrastructure development. They aim to safeguard the country’s borders while also providing local public services to the general public. It also serves as a framework for intelligence collecting and is an essential component of national security in the country.