Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One month in and refugees feel at home in Mauritania

From IRIN:
One month has passed since the first 102 Mauritanian refugees officially returned home after some 19 years in exile in Senegal. Before they left many said they feared local Mauritanians would resent them coming but those IRIN has talked with since they arrived said their fears are being allayed as they are being very well treated.

“Our welcome was warm and respectful,” said Mamadou Keita, 25 years old returnee who arrived on 29 January. Another returnee Binta Lero Sow, living six kilometres north of the town of Rosso told IRIN, “It is going well. We don’t need anything.”

A total of 30,000 Mauritanian refugees are still living in Senegal and Mali. Ethnic clashes in 1989 with Arab Moors living in neighbouring Senegal were behind the expulsion of black Mauritanians by the Arab-dominated government of former president Maaoua Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya.

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