For the German authorities, Senegal is currently deemed, along with Ghana, to be one of only two "safe countries of origin" in Africa. Nonetheless, in 2005, 311 Senegalese were recognised in Germany as political refugees or had applied for asylum. Protection was granted on the basis of the applicants' involvement in a regional independence movement and opposition to the Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS), which dominated politics until 2000.
Since the early 1980s a conflict in the extreme southwest between the government and the rebel secessionist movement Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques du Sénégal (MFDC) has generated an estimated 64 000 internal refugees. In recent years the number of refugees in the narrower sense has been estimated at 10 000 to 15 000, of which 2/3 are in Guinea Bissau and 1/3 in the Gambia. The UNHCR reported for 2005 that there were some 7 300 Senegalese refugees in Guinea-Bissau and 5 500 in the Gambia.
The background of Senegal's second and more important experience with forced migration lay in domestic political conflicts in Mauritania, which resulted in tension between the Arabic-speaking and the other parts of the population who often have ethnic connections with Senegal. In 1989, violent disagreements spread to Senegal, where Mauritanians were driven out and their businesses looted. The Mauritanian government ordered the expulsion of all "Senegalese" from its territory, which, in the racially-charged conflict, also affected parts of the Mauritanian population. Estimates hold that at least 200 000 people were driven out of the two countries. The situation de-escalated in the ensuing period, and some of those who had been driven out returned. Approximately
50 000 to 60 000 Senegalese are currently living in Mauritania.
Refugees in Senegal
In recent years Senegal has accommodated approximately
23 000 refugees and asylum seekers on the basis of the OAU Refugee Convention. The majority come from Mauritania
(20 000) but some also come from Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since the 1989 crisis, most of the Mauritanian refugees have lived in refugee camps along the country's border, and since 1996 they have been mostly self-sufficient. They are active in agriculture and livestock, having established the current Senegalese-Mauritanian dealer networks in these fields.