Senegal appeals to Mauritanian refugees to end hunger strike
A Senegalese government minister has appealed to Mauritanian refugees living in Dakar to end their nearly three-week-old hunger strike.
The refugees, who have been on hunger strike since June 19, are demanding proper resettlement and regularization of their refugee status, vowin to continue their protest action until their demands are met. Since then, several of them had to be taken to hospital after getting weak.
The Minister for Human Rights, peace, refugees and humanitarian issues, Professor Amsatou Sow Sidibé made the appeal for an end to the hunger strike over the weekend, after visiting the Mauritanian refugees camped opposite the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) head offices in Dakar.
“I have requested them to stop the hunger strike and as Minister and Advisor, I shall inform the President of the situation. I think that we stop the hunger strike and work out a way to end this issue at a higher level,” the Senegalese official told West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) on Monday.
But so far, all attempts by WADR to get reactions from the UNHCR have failed.
One of the refugees leading the hunger strike, sexagenarian Aldiouma Cissokho, who is also the Coordinator of the Mauritanian Refugees Association in Senegal, told WADR last week that the ongoing protest is their ‘way to fight for dignity and respect of law.’
But in a WADR interview Minister Sidibe said she told the refugees that she has taken note of their grievances and hoped that a solution would be found to their plight soon.
“I took note of their grievances, and they will be analyzed. A special communication on the issue of these Mauritanian refugees living in Senegal will be sent to the Head of State. This issue has been on the agenda for a long time but now we have to take it to a higher level, because today these refugees are requesting to be relocated to a third country,” the Senegalese Minister said.
According to Sidibe, the issue regarding the Mauritanian refugee was “becoming more complicated. But I have successfully gathered the information we needed to understand about their grievances, and I shall send a correspondence to the Head of State,”
Most of the Mauritanian refugees currently agitating for resettlement are those deported from their country 1989 to Senegal and Mali.
The refugee Spokesman Cissokho said there were nearly 20,000 Mauritanian refugees living in Senegal.