Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mauritanian refugees trickling home

Ever so slowly, Mauritanian refugees are beginning to return home from Senegal.

From IRIN:
Of the 35,000 Mauritanian refugees who settled in Senegal 18 years ago, 24,000 have expressed interest in returning home, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), although the Mauritanian government has said it is expecting 15,000 to 20,000 returnees.

After several delays to the start-date, and with many questions still remaining, 115 black Mauritanians who have lived in Senegal for over 18 years, returned home via Rosso a town in the south-east that borders Senegal on 29 January.

The governments of Mauritanian and Senegal are working with UNHCR to run the returns process in stages, starting with 20 families.

While UNHCR and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) will provide the returning refugees with blankets, mosquito nets, basic sanitation supplies and food for three months, after this they will be left to support themselves.

Moussa, a black Mauritanian from the capital Nouakchott, said that it is after the UN agencies leave that the difficulties might become more acute.

"The refugees have not received any concrete guarantees,” he said.

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