News / Africa

Senegalese React to President's Offer of Free Land to Haitians

Head of state announces $1 million in emergency aid in addition to offering land to Haitians who want to relocate to Senegal

Officials in Senegal have been swift to offer their country's aid to help Haiti, but some Senegalese question elements of the proposal.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade announced the country will donate $1 million in emergency aid to help Haiti, in addition to offering land to Haitians who want to relocate to Senegal.

A local karate instructor, Ibrahima Sane, thinks it is a good idea to offer aid and temporary refuge to Haitians who want to come to West Africa. But, he says, he does not agree with offering them land.

Sane says offering them land is encouraging them to stay permanently. Days after last week's earthquake in Haiti left hundreds of thousands homeless, Wade said any Haitian who wanted to move to the West African country would be offered land.

Wade's spokesman called it an offer of repatriation, and he recalled Haitians ancestral ties to Africa. Moustapha Konte, who works for the Regional Council of Dakar, says it is natural to share solidarity with Haitians because they share great-great-grandparents with Africans.

Konte added that Wade is a Pan-African, who believes in a united Africa, so he is not surprised at the president's declaration of solidarity with Haitians.

They have been confronted with a bad situation, said Konte. They would be welcome here.

Wade said the amount and location of the land depended on how many Haitians arrived, but it would be a fertile parcel - not in the sub-Saharan country's desert areas.

Senegal's Mining Minister also announced that Senegal will hold a telethon to help Haitians.

Despite Senegal's relative stability in West Africa, unemployment is high and basic infrastructure such as electricity poses daily obstacles for the population.

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