Internally Displaced Persons: General Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Senegal and MFDC
Clause four: Stimulation of Economic and Social Activities
2. The State engages to take all measures in order to facilitate the returning home of refugees and displaced persons and to give necessary support in favour of their social reintegration.
Improved security conditions after the December 2004 ceasefire meant that internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees continued to return during 2005. The number of IDPs was estimated to be 20,000. The government provided returning IDPs and refugees with roofing materials for home construction and sacks of rice.1
- 1. "2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (Senegal)," United States State Department, March 8, 2006.
As insecurity affected the Casamance through 2006, residents fled and were displaced.2 More than 4,500 Senegalese refugees sought refuge in Gambia in August 2006.3 By the end of October, the number of refugees had grown to 6,200.4
- 2. "Some 4,500 Displaced By Clashes Between Separatists, Guinea-Bissau Troops,” United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, March 20, 2006.
- 3. “Senegalese Refugees Flood Gambia to Escape Clashes, UN Agency Says,” United Nations News Service, August 23. 2006.
- 4. "Senegalese Fleeing to Gambia from Clashes in South Now, UN Agency Says," United Nations News Service, August 23, 2000.
In January 2007, renewed fighting in Southern Casamance sent Senegalese refugees, who had recently returned from Guinea Bissau, back to Guinea Bissau. The number of IDPs was an estimated total of 60,000, although it was reported that the government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons.5 In November, a faction of the splintered MFDC warned residents not to return to the Casamance from Guinea Bissau.6
According to reports in 2008, the return of displaced people was made difficult by a lack of water in the abandoned Casamance villages as well as by a fear of mines.7 The director of ANRAC commented that he was not aware of a water shortage problem for people trying to return, but said the agency would be ready to help once a formal demand was received from local authorities.8
- 7. "Lack of Basics Blocks Return of War-Weary Displaced," United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network, January 24, 2008.
- 8. Ibid.
- 9. “Lack of Peace Accord Hampers Demining in Casamance,” United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, May 9, 2008.
- 10. "2008 Human Rights Report: Senegal," United States Department of State, February 25, 2009.
Heavy fighting in the Casamance resulted in further displacements in 2009.11 Many of the people displaced started to return to their homes a few days after the clashes ended.12 Some reportedly commuted to their home villages by day to engage in agricultural activities, and left again at night.13
- 11. “Heaviest Fighting in Years’ Hits Casamance,” United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 26, 2009.
- 12. “Confronting aid challenges in volatile Casamance,” Integrated Regional Information Networks, October 19, 2009.
- 13. “New displacement and challenges to durable solutions in Casamance,” iDMC Norwegian Refugee Council, June 18, 2010.
Rebel fighting in 2010 had similar effects.14 While clashes between the MFDC and the Senegalese army continued, no large-scale displacement of civilians was reported. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimated in 2010 that some 40,000 people were still displaced in the Casamance.15
According to the US Department of State, many people became newly displaced during the year. The number fluctuated according to the ebb and flow of the conflict; estimates of the number of IDPs ranged from 10,000 to 40,000.16
- 16. “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 – Senegal,” United States Department of State, May 24, 2012.
As of February 2012, villages remained heavily mined, and “thousands” displaced.17
- 17. “Senegal’s Wade takes campaign to restive Casamance,” Agence France Presse, February 11, 2012.
The US State Department Human Rights Report reported that the government was committed to providing protection and assistance to IDPs, refugees, and stateless persons in cooperation with the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees. While it was reported that no significant number of IDPs in the Casamance region attempted to return to their villages, the government supplied food to and enrolled children of IDPs in local schools.18
- 18. "Country Reports on Human Rights Practice for 2013 – Senegal," Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 2013.
No significant improvement reported in terms of the situation of displaced persons or their resettlement.19 Nevertheless, as conflict in the Casamance region subsided with the ongoing peace processes, the situation should have been improved.
- 19. "Country Reports on Human Rights Practice for 2014 – Senegal," Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 2014.