During the early afternoon of February 14, the seven Senegalese soldiers of the ECOMIG contingent, who had been prisoners of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance, were released. This happened because the MFDC accepted the appeal of the Community of Sant'Egidio. In particular, the MFDC, which is led by Salif Sadio, handed the soldiers over to a delegation of CEDEAO (the Community of West African States). Furthermore, this event occurred in the presence of the delegate of Sant’Egidio, Don Angelo Romano, the representatives of the Gambian armed forces, and the representatives of the International Red Cross who acted as a neutral intermediary by making possible the transport of the Senegalese soldiers.
The gesture is a crucial step towards the pacification of Casamance. In fact, a delegation of the Community of Sant'Egidio immediately went to Banjul to facilitate a dialogue after the clash occurred on January 24 between the Senegalese armed forces affiliated with the Community of West African States on a mission in the Gambia (ECOMIG) and the MFDC. Specifically, the Community’s intervention was requested by the parties involved in the conflict.
As a first humanitarian gesture, on January 30, the MFDC returned the bodies of the two ECOWAS soldiers who had been killed in the clash.
Sant'Egidio expresses its satisfaction and gratitude to the MFDC for the release of the prisoners. This is even the result of a positive synergy between those people who have courageously faced this difficult crisis in order to contain its dangerous consequences - particularly the authorities of ECOWAS, Gambia, and Senegal.