The article analyses the impact of fragility and conflict on women’s and girls’ rights in eastern Mauritania, comparing the experience of Malian refugees living in Mbera Camp with the situation of women and girls outside the camp. Both experience extreme insecurity in everyday life: in addition to the economic need they endure alongside men and boys, women and girls have gender-specific protection needs. Gender inequality causes and perpetuates insecurity and violence in contexts of food insecurity and social upheaval. The article focuses on gender-based violence. It is designed to contribute to debates on integrating a gender perspective into humanitarian and development programming in a coherent manner which meets the needs of both refugee and non-refugee ‘host’ communities in an area, to work more strategically and build sustainable and peaceful solutions.