Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees in the capital Dakar were scheduled to meet UNHCR officials today to discuss further the refugees’ grievances after an angry protest there earlier this week. The UNHCR Regional Representative in Dakar, Osseni Fassassi, told IRIN today that the meeting would discuss the refugees’ demands for UNHCR protection and assistance in Senegal. On Monday, about 70 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees demonstrated in front of the UNHCR office. The refugees agreed to leave after Fassassi met them, but a few have since returned and have started a hunger strike, he said.
There are some 300 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees in Dakar, most of whom came from Guinea-Bissau last year after the outbreak of the conflict there. Fassassi said the Sierra Leoneans and Liberians do not have full refugee status in Senegal because it is not a designated country of asylum for people from those two countries.. As a temporary solution, UNHCR would explore possibilities for extending assistance to the group, and some kind of UNHCR protection document could be issued to them, he added.