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More than 45,000 have fled The Gambia this month: UN

A supporter of Gambia’s president-elect Adama Barrow pictured outside of the Gambian Embassy in Senegal’s capital Dakar on January 19, 2017, ahead of Barrow’s inauguration © AFP / SEYLLOU

Geneva, Switzerland, Jan 20 – More than 45,000 people have fled a political crisis in The Gambia this month, the United Nations said Friday, as veteran leader Yahya Jammeh faced a midday deadline to leave office.

“Around 45,000 people are now reported to have arrived in Senegal from The Gambia… amid the ongoing political uncertainty as Senegalese and West African troops entered the country on Thursday,” the UN refugee agency said in Geneva.

“It is feared that more people may continue to flee as the situation remains tense,” UNHCR said, adding that another “800 people have crossed into Guinea-Bissau.”

The UN agency noted that arrivals in Senegal have included “Gambians, Senegalese, bi-nationals, as well as Ghanaians, Liberians, Lebanese, Guineans, and Mauritanians among other foreigners.”

Jammeh, who has been in power more than 20 years, lost elections last month to Adama Barrow but has refused to stand down.

Soldiers from Senegal and four other west African countries have crossed into The Gambia to bolster Barrow, who has been sworn in at the country’s embassy in Dakar.

West African leaders have said regional forces would intervene with force if Jammeh refused to stand down.

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