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Cablegate: Mauritanian Refugees in Senegal Going Home

VZCZCXRO9753
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #2259 3231023
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191023Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9612
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 002259

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL AND INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PREF MR SG
SUBJECT: MAURITANIAN REFUGEES IN SENEGAL GOING HOME

REF: A) Dakar 1764 B) Dakar 1577 C) Dakar 1570

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In a November 13 meeting hosted by the French Embassy,
Rosaline Idowu, Regional representative for the UN High Commission
for Refugees (UNHCR), said that UNHCR and the governments of Senegal
and Mauritania had signed an agreement to repatriate Mauritanian
refugees living in Senegal. The process is expected to begin after
a three-day National Forum, to be held Nouakchott, irons out any
outstanding problems not addressed in the repatriation agreement.
Out of an estimated 30,000 refugees, at least 24,000 are expected to
return. The refugees will not sign a repatriation agreement until
the National Forum is held. End Summary

2. (U) After years of neglect by the Mauritanian government,
Senegal's Mauritanian refugees will be able to go home as soon as
early December, said UNHCR's Rosaline Idowu following the signing of
a repatriation agreement by the GOS and GOM on November 12. Before
the repatriations begin, Mauritanian President Sidi Ould Cheikh
Abdallahi will lead a National Forum November 19-21 in Nouakchott,
to try to get to grips with remaining contentious issues such as who
is a Mauritanian. For example, many nomadic Peul people, who are
native to both Senegal and Mauritania, have no papers and roam
hundreds of kilometers with their herds. The government and
representatives of the refugees still need to agree on how the
re-insertion will take place, how property that has been seized or
occupied by "Arab" Mauritanians will be returned to repatriated
black "African" Mauritanians or new properties distributed.
Moreover, the two sides need to decide who will get compensated for
what and whether refugees be able to return to their old jobs. The
government of Mauritania is not expected to set up tribunals to
punish the perpetrators of crimes committed during the 1989 conflict
but will acknowledge that crimes were committed and recognize those
who have lost someone.

Supporting the Mauritanian Government
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Idowu pointed out that this is a very sensitive process and
that if Mauritian President Abdallahi is not successful it may have
repercussions for his administration. She agreed that the
Mauritanian government is still an extremely fragile one and that
international assistance both financially and politically would go a
long way in bringing about a successful resolution to a problem that
has not been resolved in close to twenty years. In reply to a
question from PolOff about who would pay for it, she wryly said that
the United States and European countries would be the first to be
asked to assist in providing the USD 7 million billion needed to
implement the repatriation.

SMITH

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