• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR to start repatriating Mauritanians from late January

News Stories, 18 January 2008

© UNHCR/K.Deriche
Testing pirogues on the Senegal River near Rosso. Such boats will be used to ferry returnees to Mauritania.

GENEVA, January 18 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and the governments of Mauritania and Senegal have agreed to start repatriating some 24,000 Mauritanian refugees from January 28.

The agreement came Thursday at the first meeting of a tripartite commission set up by the three parties to discuss the return of Mauritanian refugees currently in Senegal.

Yesterday's meeting in the Senegal capital, Dakar, followed the signing last November of an agreement on the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Mauritanian refugees who fled from their country following a series of incidents in 1989.

"After tackling technical questions concerning the organization of the repatriation operation, the three parties declared they were ready to start the voluntary return of refugees starting from January 28. It was also agreed that UNHCR would confirm the precise date, based on technical matters," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told journalists in Geneva.

He said the first convoy was expected to bring more than 100 refugees back to their home areas in Rosso Ville and Medina Salam in south-west Mauritania, using motorized dugouts.

Upon their arrival, the returnees will receive domestic items, such as blankets, mosquito nets, soap and sanitary kits from UNHCR, as well as a three-month food ration from the World Food Programme (WFP).

After almost two decades in exile, some 24,000 Mauritanian refugees living in more than 250 different locations in Senegal have expressed their wish to return to their home country. In April 1989, a long-standing border dispute between Mauritania and Senegal escalated into ethnic violence. Some 60,000 Mauritanians fled to Senegal and Mali.

UNHCR provided assistance to the Mauritanian refugees in northern Senegal until 1995 and facilitated the reintegration of 35,000 returnees who decided of their own accord to return to Mauritania between 1996-98.

The Tripartite Commission is expected to meet again in February.

By Cécile Pouilly in Geneva

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Repatriation

UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

UNHCR Mauritania Fact Sheet

(French only, available on UNHCR's French website)

Return to Swat Valley

Thousands of displaced Pakistanis board buses and trucks to return home, but many remain in camps for fear of being displaced again.

Thousands of families displaced by violence in north-west Pakistan's Swat Valley and surrounding areas are returning home under a government-sponsored repatriation programme. Most cited positive reports about the security situation in their home areas as well as the unbearable heat in the camps as key factors behind their decision to return. At the same time, many people are not yet ready to go back home. They worry about their safety and the lack of access to basic services and food back in Swat. Others, whose homes were destroyed during the conflict, are worried about finding accommodation. UNHCR continues to monitor people's willingness to return home while advocating for returns to take place in safety and dignity. The UN refugee agency will provide support for the transport of vulnerable people wishing to return, and continue to distribute relief items to the displaced while assessing the emergency shelter needs of returnees. More than 2 million people have been displaced since early May in north-west Pakistan. Some 260,000 found shelter in camps, but the vast majority have been staying with host families or in rented homes or school buildings.

Return to Swat Valley

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

The UN refugee agency has resumed a voluntary repatriation programme for Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Some 43,000 Angolans have said they want to go back home under a project that was suspended four years ago for various reasons. A first group of 252 Angolan civilians left the UNHCR transit centre in the western DRC town of Kimpese on November 4, 2011 They crossed the border a few hours later and were warmly welcomed by officials and locals in Mbanza Congo. In the first two weeks of the repatriation operation, more than 1,000 Angolan refugees returned home from the DRC provinces of Bas-Congo in the west and Katanga in the south. Out of some 113,000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries, 80,000 are hosted by the DRC.

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

Mauritania: Mali Elections In Mauritania Play video

Mauritania: Mali Elections In Mauritania

Hundreds of Malian refugees voted in exile at the weekend in the presidential election in their home country, way down on the numbers eligible to cast a ballot.
Mali: Waiting to ReturnPlay video

Mali: Waiting to Return

After spending months in the central Mali town of Mopti, hundreds of displaced families are anxious to go back to their homes in the north. But security is still a concern.
Mali: Giving Help Play video

Mali: Giving Help

While thousands wait to be able to return to northern Mali , aid agencies continue helping the displaced.