U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau hosted some 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2003, including nearly 9,000 from Senegal and fewer than 1,000 from Sierra Leone and Liberia. Some 21 new refugees and asylum seekers arrived during the year. More than 60 Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea-Bissau voluntarily repatriated in 2003.

Refugees from Senegal

Thousands of Senegalese have fled a guerilla separatist insurgency in the Casamance region of southern Senegal since the conflict began in 1982. An estimated 23,000 Senegalese fled to Guinea-Bissau at the conflict's height in 1993. Few repatriated during 2003. Most were reluctant due to the threat of renewed violence in the Casamance. Senegalese refugees also resisted efforts to relocate further inside Guinea-Bissau, away from the volatile boarder area.

Most refugees resided amid local villages along the country's 200-mile (320 km) border with Senegal. More than 500 refugees, all of Senegalese origin, lived in Jolmète camp, about 25 miles (40 km) from Senegal. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided occupants of Jolmète camp with basic health services, water, and education. In November, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided food rations to some 40,000 refugees and Bissauans. Aid workers had to curtail some refugee assistance programs for lack of money.

Despite the presence of refugees in Guinea-Bissau and lingering concerns about their safety, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had to close its office in Guinea-Bissau at the end of 2001 for lack of funds. Without a permanent presence in the country, UNHCR staff in neighboring Senegal could only monitor refugees' needs in Guinea-Bissau during 2003.


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