Thousands of Gambians are fleeing to Senegal and Bissau

(JollofNews) – Thousands of Gambians including women, children and the elderly are fleeing the Gambia to neighbouring Senegal and Guinea-Bissau as the political standoff over last month’s election results deepens.

President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to handover power to opposition candidate Adama Barrow who was declared winner of the election by the country’s electoral commission.

He has also laughed a pledge made by leaders of the West African regional grouping to send a Senegal-led military force to intervene militarily in the Gambia and enforce the outcome of the election if he refuses to give up power when his mandate expires on January 18.

But as the dateline nears with President Jammeh vowing to stay put and defeat any foreign military invasion, the political uncertainty and fear of unrest has force thousands of civilians living in Banjul and other major towns to flee to the provinces and neighbouring countries.

Figures released by Guinea-Bissau Refugee Commission show that more than 1000 Gambians including women and children have taken refuge in the impoverished country in the past few days.

“It is clear that the total number is far higher than a thousand and rising daily,” Tibna Sambe Na Wana, the national coordinator for Guinea-Bissau’s Refugee Commission told AFP.

“Women, children and the elderly made up the greatest numbers, the official said, with more than 500 passing one border post near the town of Jegue in three days. They say they are scared of a military escalation.”

The UNHCR has also confirmed that thousands of Gambians are crossing into the Casamance region of Senegal. Most of the refugees are staying with friends and families and living on handouts.