Protecting civilians in armed conflict

Senegal

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Senegal

The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC)  has been fighting for the independence of the Casamance region since 1982.

The MFDC is a fragmented movement, composed of a divided political wing and two large military factions, a northern faction operating along the border with the Gambia and a southern faction along the border with Guinea-Bissau. Despite several peace agreements, this low-level insurgency has not been settled and clashes occur sporadically between MFDC rebels and the Senegalese armed forces. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and displaced many more, both within Casamance and into neighbouring countries, leaving large areas abandoned and land unused. More than 800 mine casualties have been recorded, most of them civilians.

While the intensity of mine use has decreased, the MFDC has not stopped using this weapon and in several instances has attacked Senegalese troops carrying out mine clearance operations, killing several soldiers. The MFDC also abducted civilian deminers in 2013.

Activities

Geneva Call has been engaging the MFDC on the anti-personnel (AP) mine ban since 2006. Much of Geneva Call’s engagement has targeted the southern faction, as its operating area is particularly affected by landmines and thus considered a priority for demining.

 

Banning AP mines

Initially reluctant to accept any demining without a peace agreement, the MFDC’s southern faction was progressively convinced by Geneva Call to accept humanitarian demining in inhabited areas not close to its bases and not affecting its security. In cooperation with several local NGOs, Geneva Call also expanded its advocacy work to Casamance communities. More than 900 community and refugee leaders have been sensitized to the AP mine ban because they live in mine-affected areas near MFDC bases and have regular contact with MFDC combatants.

Demining operations expanded rapidly, coming closer to MFDC’s bases. In early 2013, Geneva Call facilitated the first ever meeting between the MFDC southern faction and the Senegalese Mine Action Centre with a view to preventing incidents. MFDC said they considered that demining operators had reached a “red line” and should stop. Twelve deminers working with a South African company were subsequently abducted by the MFDC on the grounds that they had not respected its warnings. Geneva Call hosted another meeting to break the deadlock. The deminers were eventually released. Clearance operations were halted for several months, but have resumed on a small scale in isolated non-strategic locations.

Geneva Call has also initiated dialogue with the northern MFDC faction, raising awareness of the AP mine ban norms

Main achievements

  • Geneva Call’s work has enabled progress in the demining of certain areas of Casamance.
  • Geneva Call was instrumental in establishing direct dialogue on humanitarian demining between the MFDC southern faction and relevant Senegalese authorities.

 

In Senegal, Geneva Call works or has worked with the following armed non-State actors:

Organization Active Thematic areas
Landmine ban Child protection Gender issues Humanitarian norms
Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC) Yes
Click on the ticks to display the signed Deeds of Commitment
 

The ANSA is being engaged by Geneva Call on this thematic area

 

The ANSA was engaged by Geneva Call on this thematic area

 

The ANSA has signed the Deed of Commitment on this thematic area

 

Theirwords.org

  • Theirwords.org is a directory of armed non-State actors commitments. Check out the documents concerning this country on theirwords.org.
 
 

Related Medias

 
Strategy 2017-2019
 

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Local Partner(s)

  • Association pour la Promotion Rurale de l’Arrondissement Nyassia – Solidarité, Développement, Paix (APRAN- SPD)
  • Campagne Sénégalaise contre les Mines