Cleric seeks urgent relief aid for Casamance refugees

Ziguinchor- Senegal (PANA) -- The current military operation by the Senegalese army in northern Casamance along the Gambian border will have enormous humanitarian consequences, Fr Alain Diédhiou warned here Sunday.
Diédhiou is a member of Ziguinchor religious committee that works for peacemaking in the southern region of Senegal that has been in armed conflict for more than twenty years.
The church of Casamance established the religious to contribute to peacemaking in the troubled region.
Diédhiou told PANA in an interview that this situation would force thousands of people living in villages where military operations are taking place to flee to Gambia, abandoning their agricultural projects.
"Since the beginning of the clashes, more than 3,500 people have already fled to Gambia, leaving their fields and all their belongings" the prelate lamented.
He explained that most of the people fleeing again had recently returned home from years of exile to rebuild their villages only to experience a fresh outbreak of violence.
He estimated that all inhabitants of at least ten villages have left for Gambia since the beginning of this military operation.
The affected villages include Tambaf, Kandon, Batinding, Kadialouck and Diaboudior.
Thieir inhabitants have swamped Gambian towns such as Sérékunda, Djifanga or Sibanor.
"Presently only the Gambian Red Cross is assisting the refugees, which puts them in a precarious situation" Diédhiou noted.
Therefore, he appealed for rapid intervention by other humanitarian organisations on the Gambian border to assist these thousands of refugees mainly comprising women and children, in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

03 september 2006 19:34:00

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