UNHCR resumes repatriation of Mauritanian refugees in Senegal

News Stories, 19 October 2010

© UNHCR/E. Villechalane
Disembarking of returnees from the convoy at the reception centre in Rosso.

ROSSO, Mauritania, October 19 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has resumed its repatriation operation for Mauritanian refugees from Senegal following a 10-month break. A first group of 121 people were taken to the southern Mauritanian town of Rosso, crossing the River Senegal that marks the boundary between the two countries.

The group was warmly received in Rosso by a high-level government delegation, including the governor of the Trarza region and the Mauritanian Senate's Vice President. The 121 were later taken back to their villages of origin, mainly in the Aoudji and Madina Salam areas.

Voluntary repatriations from Senegal to Mauritania were suspended in December 2009 pending a tripartite meeting of the two countries with UNHCR. That meeting took place last July, allowing repatriations to resume now that the rainy season is over.

UNHCR is planning weekly convoys to transport home some 2,500 refugees by the end of this year. These are people who have been given clearance by the Mauritanian authorities to go back to the Trarza region of southern Mauritania.

The meeting also agreed to a strengthened Mauritanian government role in the repatriation process. Starting this week, the government has taken over the transportation of its returning citizens to their final destinations, the allocation of temporary shelters and construction kits to returnee families, as well as distributions of hot meals upon arrival. Previously, these activities were carried out by UNHCR while the authorities mainly handled the administrative formalities of refugee returns into the country.

"UNHCR welcomes Mauritania's greater involvement in the process and will continue to support its authorities in making returns sustainable," UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, said in Geneva on Tuesday.

This assistance includes a cash grant, mosquito nets, blankets and provision of shelter kits to vulnerable families. UNHCR will also continue providing micro-credits to help returnees to become self-reliant, and maintain protection monitoring activities.

Refugees from Mauritania have been in Senegal for more than two decades. They are among the tens of thousands who fled when a longstanding border dispute between Mauritania and Senegal degenerated in April 1989. However, their voluntary return only became possible after the Mauritanian government called in 2007 on its citizens to return home from exile.

Monday's departure was the 80th convoy UNHCR has organized since launching the repatriation operation in January 2008. More than 19,000 Mauritanian refugees have returned home to date. There are still 21,300 Mauritanian refugees in Senegal and another 10,500 in Mali, of the initial 60,000 who fled to both countries in 1989.

• 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.

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

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

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

South Sudan: No Home To Return ToPlay video

South Sudan: No Home To Return To

Philip and his family fled from their home in the South Sudan town of Bor last December and found shelter in the capital, Juba. Recently they decided to return home, despite the risks. It took three arduous days to get back, but then they got there they found that their home had been destroyed.
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.