Expelled Mauritanians Appeal for their Right to Return
NEW YORK—Mauritanian refugees in Senegal and Mali have launched new efforts to pressure the regional governments to resolve the protracted plight of the thousands of stateless black Mauritanians who were expelled from their country in 1989 through a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Rights groups such as the Coordinating Group of Mauritanian Refugees have intensified their advocacy on behalf of Mauritanian expellees through the Dodel Appeal, which calls for:
- the collective right for expellees to return to Mauritania,
- the right of the expellees to lawfully reclaim their Mauritanian citizenship,
- compensation for the property that they lost when they were expelled.
The Dodel Appeal was released on September 16, 2005.
The formulation of the Dodel Appeal marks a new stage in the struggle to restore citizenship and obtain compensation for expellees that began when General Ely Ould Mohamed Vall came to power in Mauritania on August 3, 2005. From August 29 to September 4, 2005, Tom Bahame Nyanduga, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights' Special Rapporteur on Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and Displaced Persons conducted a mission to an expellee camp in Senegal to call attention to the situation of the expellees. Commissioner Nyanduga's mission was facilitated by local Mauritanian expellee rights groups, the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, and the Open Society Justice Initiative.
At a recent press conference marking his two-month tenure in office, General Vall said that he was ready to welcome all Mauritanians living abroad to return to Mauritania. Vall's government must follow through on these statements by elaborating a comprehensive plan that will recognize the citizenship of the expellees, allow them to return, and hold the former regime accountable for massive human rights violations against the black Mauritanians.