New Casamance refugees flee into Gambia

Banjul- Gambia (PANA) -- Hundreds of refugees have crossed into Gambia from the troubled southern Senegalese Casamance area where government forces are fighting separatists of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC).
According to government officials, the refugees are overcrowded in four Gambian villages near Casamance, where the secessionist group has been fighting since 1982.
The Commissioner of the Lower River Division Omar Sanneh has urged humanitarian agencies, especially the Red Cross, to intervene urgently.
Omar said his division was hosting the bulk of the Casamance people, adding that he expected a bigger flow of refugees as the crisis escalates further.
"The Government has provided immediate assistance in the form of food shelter and others, but more still has to be done," Sanneh added.
A majority of the refugees are women and children.
The Senegalese government and the MFDC signed a new peace agreement in mid March this year.
However, armed groups believed to be MFDC rebels continued sporadic attacks, particularly in Bignona district.

22 may 2001 19:24:00

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