Source: The Guardian (UK)
Those on the verge of becoming full citizens in Guinea-Bissau are beneficiaries of a policy that stands in contrast to that of many other countries
By Ruth Maclean in Pelundo, Guinea-Bissau
Eduardo Marina was harvesting in the peanut fields with all the adults in his family when he smelled the smoke. Raising his head, he saw that Missira, his village in southern Senegal, was burning.
Marina ran towards the fire. The children were still in the village, being babysat by his eldest daughter, Satou. Gathering them up, he and the whole family ran through the forest and over the border into Senegal’s tiny southern neighbour, Guinea-Bissau.
That was in 1991. They have never been back to Missira. Ever since, they have lived with thousands of others in limbo in Guinea-Bissau, waiting for a nearly four-decade conflict to end.
Now, they are on the verge of becoming full Guinean citizens, as beneficiaries of a sweeping policy that stands in stark contrast to many countries’ reluctance to take in those fleeing war, persecution and poverty.
Seven thousand refugees will join Guinea-Bissau’s 1.8 million citizens, equivalent to the UK naturalising 256,000 refugees at a stroke.