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Mali: Kayes Celebrates World Refugee Day

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Kayes celebrated World Refugee Day on Tuesday, 20 June 2017. The ceremony took place in the conference roomof the governorate and was presided over by the Regional Governor, Babahamane Maiga.

This year, the theme of World Refugee Day “Together with Refugees”, encourages solidarity and the discovery of refugees in order to facilitate their integration into our societies. This day is an opportunity to remind the whole world of the duty to live in tolerance, harmony and peace.

Kayes, like the other regions of Mali, is a region of hospitality, solidarity and sharing that has accepted to welcome Mauritanian refugees since 1989 following the conflict between Senegal and Mauritania. These populations fled their country of origin, which was no longer able to protect them from repression, and for the massive human rights violations they were subjected to. They chose Mali, a land of asylum and live in perfect harmony with the local populations.

These refugees have lived in the Kayes region of Mali for exactly 28 years.

According to the representative of the Mayor of the urban commune of Kayes, “Refugees are people like you and I who, guided by the instinct of survival, have abandoned what they have most dear: their homeland, their home, their property and their friends to recover their fundamental rights in other countries far from theirs.”

These people, who live in difficult conditions, benefit from national and international solidarity through multisectoral support, which is implemented by the partners: the government (national commission for refugees) and the NGO Stop-Sahel in partnership With UNHCR.

Mauritanian refugees in the Kayes region have set up an association that plays a key role in the community in the context of awareness-raising, information and mobilization. The aim of this association is to organize, supervise and assist Mauritanian refugees in Mali in the fields of health, formal education, and development in collaboration with the authorities of the country, international organizations such as UNHCR and NGOs operating in this sector.

For Alpha DATT, the president of the association, “These refugees are at risk of statelessness because no state recognizes them as their nationals”. He thanked the indigenous people, local elected officials and others for the unfailing support to them.

For the Governor of the region, this day is also important to pay tribute to the refugees and addresses the fate of the 65.5 million refugees who have been forced to leave their countries to flee the war, the persecution, leaving behind them, families, friends and property to find asylum elsewhere. He took the opportunity to recall that 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are supported by developing or middle-income countries. This means that the poor nations share better than the rich nations.

The ceremony ended with an artistic performance by Mauritanian refugees living in the Kayes region.

Issa BATHILY
Kayes