Rome-Based Lay Catholic Association Calls for End of Hostilities in Casamance, Senegal

Fr. Angelo Romano of the Sant’Egidio Community helped mediate the release of seven Senegalese prisoners. Credit: Sant’Egidio Community

The leadership of the Rome-based lay Catholic association dedicated to the provision of social services and arbitrating conflicts, Sant’Egidio Community, has called on the government of Senegal to end its military operation in the Casamance region.

On March 13, Senegalese military launched an offensive against fighters allied to the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC), a separatist group in the Southern region of the country, BBC News reported.

“As part of their regalian missions of securing people and property, the army launched an operation on Sunday, March 13, 2022, whose main objective is to dismantle the bases of the MFDC faction of Salif Sadio,” the military chief of staff said in a statement.

In a statement circulated Wednesday, March 16, Sant’Egidio officials express concern about the violence in the region of Casamance and call on parties in conflict to seek Dialogue.

“We are deeply concerned about the armed conflict that is currently taking place in northern Casamance,” Sant’Egidio officials say in the statement dated Tuesday, March 15.


They add, “Sant'Egidio calls for an end to the current military operations by the Senegalese army in order to ensure the stability of the affected region and to keep the path of dialogue open.”

The leadership of Sant’Egidio also reiterates its full willingness to “continue the negotiation process, convinced that only through a reasonable negotiation will a definitive peace in Casamance be possible.”

In January, the Rome-based Association acted as a mediator in the Casamance conflict, facilitating the release of seven soldiers, members of the West African Military Mission in Gambia (ECOMIG).

“Following the clashes that occurred on January 24th between Senegalese soldiers from the West African regional mission ECOMIG and fighters from the MFDC led by Salif Sadio, Sant'Egidio intervened to stop the incidents and limit their consequences, managing to obtain the return of the bodies of the fallen Senegalese soldiers and the release of the seven Senegalese soldiers captured by the MFDC,” the Catholic lay Association officials said in a statement dated January 31.

They added, “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.”

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Casamance was a Portuguese territory for several hundred years until it was ceded to France in 1888. It became part of Senegal after the country gained independence in 1960.

The region, which has a distinct culture and language, is separated geographically from the rest of Senegal by the Gambia River, around which lies The Gambia.

The MFDC’s rebellion, which has reportedly thrived on perceived marginalization of the region, dates back to 1982.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.