Gambia hosted about 13,000 refugees at the end of 1998, including some 7,000 from Sierra Leone, nearly 5,000 from Senegal, and about 1,000 from Guinea-Bissau.

Refugees from Sierra Leone

The number of Sierra Leonean refugees in Gambia doubled during 1997-98 because of ongoing civil war in Sierra Leone. More than 1,000 new refugees entered the country during 1998.

The vast majority of the refugee population resided in villages and urban areas of Gambia. Only 550 lived at a designated refugee camp, where UNHCR provided food, health care, primary school education, and vocational training.

Refugees from Senegal and Guinea-Bissau

The estimated 5,000 Senegalese refugees in Gambia at the end of 1998 included new arrivals during the year as well as 2,000 to 3,000 refugees already in Gambia. Ongoing violence in southern Senegal pushed nearly 2,000 refugees into Gambia in late 1997 and early 1998. Another to 2,000 to 5,000 Senegalese refugees fled to Gambia in May.

Gambian officials appealed for international assistance to deal with the refugee influx. Local Red Cross workers supplied temporary food and medical care. Some refugees quickly returned to Senegal when conditions there permitted.

Most Senegalese refugees who remained in Gambia supported themselves in border villages or in urban areas. Only about 650 people resided in Gambia's four camps for Senegalese refugees, including one camp opened in 1998.

About 1,000 refugees from Guinea-Bissau fled to Gambia during the year to escape an outbreak of military violence in their country.


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