Casamance: following the incident of recent days Sant'Egidio on site - obtained the handover of the bodies of soldiers killed and started a mediation to free prisoners

After the armed clash of 24 January between troops from Senegal, part of the military mission of the Community of West African States (CEDEAO) on mission in Gambia, and elements of the Casamance Democratic Forces Movement (MFDC), at the request of the parties directly involved, a delegation from the Community of Sant'Egidio went to Banjul (Gambia) to help halt the escalation and facilitate the reopening of dialogue, the only way out of a conflict that has lasted for over 30 years and has caused thousands of victims and refugees. The incident on 24 January caused two deaths among CEDEAO troops and one of MFDC, including the capture of seven CEDEAO soldiers by the MFDC and the arrest of three suspected MFDC members by CEDEAO troops.

On the evening of Sunday 30 January, the head of the MFDC, Salif Sadio, welcomed the appeal made by Sant'Egidio for the immediate return of bodies of the two soldiers killed by CEDEAO, as a humanitarian gesture, handing them over to a representative of the Community of African States, in the presence of the Sant'Egidio delegation led by Fr Angelo Romano, representatives of the Gambia armed forces and representatives of the International Red Cross, who, together with the Gambian Red Cross, acted as a neutral intermediary, making it possible to transport the bodies.

Sant'Egidio reiterates the need to quickly resolve - through dialogue between the parties - the consequences of the tragic events of 24 January, starting with the release of prisoners on both sides. The Community also renews its commitment to a negotiated solution which will finally bring the conflict in Casamance to an end.