During Senegalese Military Raids in Casamance
By Nelson Manneh
Residents in border villages in Foni have narrated some of the worst economic losses they face due to the Senegalese military confrontation with the armed opposition in Casamance, the southern region of Senegal.
The villagers gave an account of their conditions to this reporter during a weekend visit to the area.
Modou Gibba, the Alkalo of Gifanga Village said some of their domestic animals died from gunshots and gases they inhaled during the incident.
“Recently a cow just died and when we saw the carcass, it was confirmed that it died from a gunshot. We do not know whether it was killed by the Senegalese forces or by the MFDC separatists,” the Alkalo said; that many of their small ruminants such as goats and other domestic animals died in the village as a result of the conflict.
“We are victims of this conflict because some of our cashew farms have been torched to ashes. We are still afraid of going to our farmland because of gunshots. We have seen a bullet that has landed but did not explode. We have to inform Gambia soldiers who came and took care of it.”
The Alkalo of Gifanga said Gambian soldiers have sacrificed a lot to ensure that they continue with their normal lives along the borders.
“These brave men in uniform always come here to mount patrols and asked us to go and harvest our cashew farms daily. Every year I harvest more than forty bags of cashew nuts but this year I don’t think I will be able to harvest even half of this amount,” he said.
In Gifanga tents that were provided as shelters for refugees are still mounted with their mattresses. The Alkalo of the said village said the authorities provided the tents during the conflict to shelter expatriates but were not provided with feeding.
Ebrima Bojang, the Alkalo of Ballen Village said they still continue to lose their domestic animals and life is getting harder with them. “We rely on our domestic animals and cashew farms to make a living during the dry season. This year the narration is different. We are now thinking of how to feed our families up to the end of the coming raining season.”
Malamin Colley, the Alkalo of Karunorr village said the women’s vegetable garden is no more functioning because when the women vacated the village, nobody stayed to water their garden.
“This is the only source of income for our women. All of them are now sitting at home doing nothing.”
The Alkalo of Karunorr said they received assistance that came from the Government of the Gambia, whereby every household was given five thousand, two hundred and fifty dalasi.
In most of the villages visited over the weekend, the Alkalos said there are still some members of their villages who are yet to return.
The Gambia Armed Force continued to patrol the Foni border villages daily to ensure that villagers continue to enjoy peace and security in the area. The commander of the Gambia Armed Forces in Kinalai said they will never relent in their service, and will continue to provide the necessary security within the area.