Senegalese veterans who fought for France in the world wars and other conflicts have been granted the right to claim a French pension in their country of origin, overturning a previous rule stating they had to spend at least six months a year in France.
The decision means that African riflemen recruited by the French army, known as tirailleurs, will be allowed to return permanently to their home countries while continuing to receive their minimum state benefits from France.
Although the majority of the former riflemen were born in Senegal, others have Mauritanian or Malian nationality.
According to the Office of Former Combatants, some 40 veterans have been identified as eligible, with France's Ministry of Solidarity and Health confirming to FranceInfo radio that at least 20 applications have been validated so far.
The French government's decision was revealed in media reports this Wednesday, following a long struggle by veterans and their supporters to secure full pension rights.
Forced to live half the year in France
Until now, veterans born in France's former African colonies who enlisted in the French army were obliged to live at least six months of the year in France to receive their minimum old age pension.
Another former rifleman, Yoro Diao, told the radio station: "We're dying of low morale."
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