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Guinea-Bissau

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

As of February UNHCR reported the country hosted more than 8,600 Senegalese refugees and asylum seekers; most were from Senegal’s Casamance Region, where a low-level separatist conflict has gone on for decades.

Some refugees from Casamance lived in Guinea-Bissau for decades, but UNHCR reported the de facto ceasefire in Senegal prompted some to return to their villages in Senegal. Other Senegalese refugees moved back and forth across the border. With ethnic and family ties on both sides of the poorly marked border, the nationality of residents along the border was not always clear.

Access to Asylum: The law provides for granting of asylum or refugee status, but the government system for providing protection to refugees was inactive. The government did not grant refugee status or asylum during the year, and there were no reported requests for either. The UNHCR office in Bissau facilitated the issuance of refugee cards.

Durable Solutions: Nearly 3,000 Senegalese refugees in 2014 told UNHCR and the country’s National Commission for Refugees and Displaced Persons they wished to remain in the country permanently, and the government adopted a welcoming policy toward them. The government offered these refugees the option of citizenship or permanent residence; the first tranche was granted citizenship in 2015.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future