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21 January, 2017

UN says 45,000 flee Gambia amid political turmoil

Political turmoil in Gambia has driven about 45,000 people, mainly children, to flee into Senegal since January 1, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday, citing figures from the Senegalese government.

The next few days will be critical and more people may leave the country if the current situation is not resolved peacefully soon,” UNHCR said in a statement.

Senegalese authorities had prepared aid for 100,000 arrivals, it said.

The Gambia or Islamic Republic of The Gambia and often referred to as just Gambia, is a country in West Africa mostly surrounded by Senegal with a short strip of its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean at its western end. It is the smallest country in mainland Africa.

Following the 1 December 2016 elections, the elections commission declared Adama Barrow the winner of the presidential election. Jammeh, who had ruled for 22 years, first announced he would step down after losing the 2016 election before declaring the results void and calling for a new vote, sparking a constitutional crisis and leading to an invasion by an ECOWAS coalition. On 20 January 2017, Barrow announced that Jammeh had agreed to step down and would leave the country.

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