Nouakchott- Mauritania (PANA) -- Mauritania's film maker Abderrahmane Sissako has stressed his commitment to the successful repatriation of the thousands of Mauritanian refugees who have been living in Senegal and Mali since 1989.
Sissako told journalists here Saturday his offer was because of the realisation of the fact that Mauritania needed national reconciliation to move forward.
"I'm ready to serve this cause, to be its champion," said Sissako, offering also to be involved in fundraising activities to ensure the success of the repatriation operation.
Ethnic tensions between Mauritania and Senegal in April 1989 forced an estimated 60,000 Mauritanians to seek refuge in more than 250 communities in the Senegal River Valley.
According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, there are up to 30,000 Mauritanian refugees in Senegal and "a few hundred" in Mali.
Most of the refugees have responded positively to the invitation of their Government to return home.
The new government in Mauritania has shown commitment to the repatriation of the refugees.
On 20 June 2007, World Refugee Day, the President of Mauritania officially invited all Mauritanian refugees in exile to return home.
A government delegation has visited the Mauritanian refugee population in Senegal, while inter-ministerial committees have been created in Mauritania and Senegal handle the repatriation.