Liberian Refugees On Hunger Strike in Senegal
The Perspective

Liberian refugees in Senegal have reportedly begun a hunger strike to publicize what they regard as unjust treatment meted against them by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the Senegalese Government.

In an e-mail sent to this paper by Emmanuel Tarwo & Tinnicee B.Geeply on behalf of the of the striking refugees, the refugees claimed their benefits, such as resettlement packages, have been circumvented and given to French speaking citizens. They also claimed that they, along with the Sierra Leonean refugees, have been identified as mercenaries linked to the Senegalese separatists in the Cassaman, thus posing security problems for them.

Hundreds of thousands of Liberian refugees remain in neighboring countries despite the July 1997 elections that brought former warlord Charles Taylor to power. Citing increased security reasons, many have refused to return home despite appeals from the UNHCR and other organizations. Below is the dispatch from the Liberian refuges.
"Death, sicknesses, massive security measures, coupled with frustrations, have become the order of the day against Liberian refugees here in Senegal-Dakar.

Since the inception of the conflict back home, Liberian seeking refuge in Senegal have not been helped in any way by the UNHCR Dakar. With this carnage, the UNHCR Dakar did not stop that far; but [they are] also blocking all chances and privileges given by Countries of goodwill like: Australia, Canada, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Finland , Norway, Germany etc. for Resettlement of Refugees, for social and economic sufficiency.

With mere cruelty, UNHCR Dakar has given all our spaces provided for Resettlement, to the Froncophone refugees based on their French sentiment. At this crucial time when the newly elected President, Mr. Adboulaye Wade, openly accused Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees of being the mercenaries involved in the Cassaman insurgency. UNHCR as an agent responsible for the full care and protection of every refugee(s), did not take any action, thus exposing us to many dangers...

...Senegal is not save for us. Base on this reason, we have decided to gather ourselves at the UNHCR's office on a HUNGER STRIKE until solution can be found to our aging plight in getting out of Senegal. We are presently under the rain and cold, but we will not relent until final and better outcome. In concise we are calling on you to do all in your able power, in lobbying to end our nightmare..."

In another e-mail sent to The Perspective, the representatives of the striking Liberian refugees wrote, "the UNHCR ordered Police to arrest and detain some of us. The riot, However resulted into our forceful refusal, some of us were by all means taken to the police and were later released. During this riot at the UNHCR's office, a pregnant lady sustained pain, that led to her delivery by force, but nothing happens to her. Moreover; during the week, one of our men fell off and was taken to the Fann Hospital, with other two Refugees who had mental disability."

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