BANJUL – ANXIETY has gripped Gambia ahead of Thursday when President Yahya Jammeh must hand over power to rival Adama Barrow after the December 1 election.
After initially conceding defeat, Jammeh is contesting the results and vowed not to vacate office. He has defied international pressure and regional diplomacy.
The African Union last Friday warned him of “serious consequences” if he stayed on.
Several thousand people, mainly children, have crossed into neighbouring countries to escape possible mayhem.
While some people have decided to stay in Gambia, many are sending their children to Senegal as a precautionary measure.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees officials confirmed the surge mainly to Kaolack, Kolda Sédhiou and Ziguinchor areas.
“UNHCR teams report seeing buses filled with children, accompanied by women, cross the border,” said Liz Ahua, the regional representative for the refugee agency.
Most refugees are staying with relatives or host families. Some households have more than tripled in size, putting a strain on resources, especially
UNHCR and Senegalese authorities have deployed joint field missions to southern Senegal’s Casamance, bordering Gambia. They are establishing
contingency plans in case of future influxes.
The UN agency and authorities in Guinea Bissau are sending a team to Cacheu in the north-west where some 400 people have reportedly arrived
from the Gambia in recent days.
– CAJ News