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Cablegate: Mauritanian and Senegalese Presidents Discuss

VZCZCXRO4350
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1570 2081315
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271315Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8887
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 001570

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL/AE AND INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINS SOCI PHUM PINR PREF OVIP SG MR
SUBJECT: MAURITANIAN AND SENEGALESE PRESIDENTS DISCUSS
REFUGEE ISSUES

SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) Mauritanian President, Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh
Abdallahi, paid an official visit to Senegal on July 9 and
10. He met President Wade and with the Mauritanian community
where discussions included the status of Mauritanian refugees
on the Mauritania-Senegal border. The newly installed
President emphasized his wish to repatriate the refugees who
have been in Senegal for approximately two decades.
Following a July 18 Cabinet meeting, Wade offered Senegalese
citizenship to those refugees who wished to stay in Senegal.
End Summary.

Background
----------
2. (U) In the late 1980,s and early 1990,s a conflict arose
between Senegal and Mauritania over a border dispute along
the Senegal River that resulted in violent clashes, human
rights violations, and the expulsion of 8black8
Mauritanians to Senegal during the rule of former Mauritanian
leader Maouya Ould Taya. Some refugees intermittently
returned to Mauritania; however, approximately 18-20,000
remain waiting for assistance and guarantees of their safety.

3. (SBU) Most of the refugees have been residing in
provisional settlements along the Senegal River Valley.
UNHCR has been called upon to assist with a safe and smooth
reintegration process. During the visit, Presidents
Abdallahi and Wade agreed to repatriate refugees if the
international community provides support. President
Abdallahi also urged Mauritanian citizens to support the
reinsertion efforts. On July 19, newspapers reported on a
communiqu from the Cabinet asserting a Presidential decision
that the government of Senegal would grant Mauritanian
refugees Senegalese citizenship if they wished to stay in
country. UNHCR Representative Rosaline Idowu confirmed that
the President had told her as much during a recent meeting.
The communiqu further stated that those who wished to return
would receive assistance from both governments.

4. (U) Visit Embassy Dakar,s SIPRNET website at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/af/dakar.
SMITH

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