Casamance refugees expelled from Gambia

Ziguinchor- Senegal (PANA) -- The first batch of nearly 200 Casamance refugees expelled from the Gambia arrived early Sunday morning in Ziguinchor, capital of the civil-war troubled southern Senegalese region.
The returnees, who had fled to the neighbouring country to escape an upsurge of fighting between the Senegalese army and the rebel Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC) have been temporarily sheltered at the Djilock accommodation centre east of Ziguinchor, According to a regional committee dealing with people in difficulties, the group consisted of 144 children, 27 men and 25 women.
Gambian soldiers escorted them.
One of the former refugees said that Gambian authorities had expelled them after they had refused to be moved to Bambali village near the River Gambia.
"We refused to go there because the conditions were unbearable in that village" whose paddy fields had not been cultivated for about thirty years due to salinity.
Their deportation had started Friday morning when security forces asked them to embark on board of vehicles.
"We refused to get on board.
We requested a 24-hour extension to be able to pack our belongings.
But they refused and forced us to board.
" Ziguinchor regional officials, Senegalese soldiers and NGOs were on Sunday preparing vehicle to go and fetch the remaining Senegalese refugees in Gambia.

17 june 2001 19:47:00

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