News

Senegalese Refugees Speak Out Amid Increased Violence

Multimedia

Audio

Southern Senegal is experiencing some of the worst fighting in years, as violence between separatist rebels and army loyalists flares.  The fighting has left one small town in rural Senegal deserted, as farmers are forced to leave their crops to languish due to safety concerns.

Nearly 200 protesters gathered outside government offices in Ziguinchor in southern Senegal this week.  Some held signs that read, "We Are Tired of the Fighting."

Residents of Diabir flee fighting

Most of the protesters were residents of Diabir, a small town 15 kilometers outside Ziguinchor.  Diabir is nearly deserted now, as its residents have fled after an increase in fighting between the Senegalese Army and members of the separatist rebel movement known as the Movement for the Democratic Forces of Casamance, or MFDC.

A teacher from Diabir says he was forced to leave his home and stay with family in Ziguinchor.

"My name is Thierno Diallo," he said. "I am a teacher in Diabir, in the outskirts of Ziguinchor.  In that area since the fighting between the MFDC troops and the Senegalese army began, people are leaving their villages for Ziguinchor.  A lot of people who are there are really now in bad conditions and they are really living in dire straits."

The fighting is part of one the longest-running conflicts in Africa.  The conflict began in 1982, when MFDC separatists launched a rebellion against the Senegalese government.

A peace accord was reached in 2004, but in the past month the area has seen some of the worst violence since 2002.  Last week, rebels shot and killed a Senegalese loyalist soldier.  In retaliation, a military jet belonging to the Senegalese army bombed the positions of the rebel movement.

The fighting is hurting local farmers, who have been forced to leave their crops unattended amidst the violence said Diallo.

"It is the rainy season," said Diallo. "And people should be in their farms trying to plow the lands, and now it will be very difficult for them to do their jobs in their fields."

People angry with government

At this week's rally, another resident of Diabir, Ousmane Diop, said he is angry with the government for not making their area safe against the rebel attacks.

He said his area is usually without electricity, and at night bandits invade their homes.  He added people with guns constantly come in and steal their livestock.

Another Diabir resident, Mama Mbouray Kande says she is traumatized by what is happening in her small town.

There is fighting and there is darkness, says Kande.  At the demonstration this week, she said there are no longer army soldiers in the rural areas to protect her and her children.  She pleaded with the government to send military police to the area to protect them from the bandits and rebels.

Because of safety concerns, Kande and her family fled their home.  She is now staying in a temporary shelter for refugees, set up inside a school in Ziguinchor.

Diallo adds this housing situation only compounds the problem, because soon the government will be forced to move the refugees when school starts in Ziguinchor.

"Most of them are now in Ziguinchor with relatives or they are in schools and the school will be opening very soon," he said. "And it will be a very difficult problem for the government to make the population leave the school and to prepare for the opening of the academic year."

At the rally, a member of the armed forces who refused to be named insisted they were doing all they could to protect the population.

This week, Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade promised to continue with peace efforts in the region.  But he added he thought peace had been achieved when his government signed the peace accords in 2004 with the MFDC.

When the fighting began more than 25 years ago, families in the region were driven from their homes.  But in recent years, they had started to return to the land, where agriculture provides the main source of income.   

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs