Côte d'Ivoire: UN refugee agency welcomes news of ceasefire accord

Côte d'Ivoire: UN refugee agency welcomes news of ceasefire accord

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today welcomed news of a ceasefire agreement in Côte d'Ivoire voicing hope for a return to normalcy as quickly as possible so hundreds of thousands of displaced people can go home.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today welcomed news of a ceasefire agreement in Côte d'Ivoire voicing hope for a return to normalcy as quickly as possible so hundreds of thousands of displaced people can go home.

A spokesman for the agency said that for the time being, however, there is still a sizeable displaced population that needs help, including nearly 1,000 refugees who have lost their homes in a campaign aimed at razing shantytowns in and around Abidjan.

"The refugees remain in five temporary transit sites, while thousands of other displaced Ivorians and immigrants have found temporary housing with family and friends," Ron Redmond said at a press briefing in Geneva. "In all, more than 200,000 people - mostly from Bouaké and other northern towns - are estimated to have been displaced inside the country over the past four weeks."

Mr. Redmond said the agency is also taking part in a two-day regional planning meeting in Accra, Ghana, due to wrap up today, on different possible scenarios and plans for the region.

Meanwhile, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said it would continue to channel assistance to affected populations, especially displaced children, in Côte d'Ivoire.

In a statement that welcomed the start of the peace process, announced last night by President Laurent Gbagbo, UNICEF's Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Rioma Salah, said peace would ensure that the children and youth of Côte d'Ivoire lived together in peace and harmony. She called on the country’s youngsters to participate actively in the peace-building process so as to contribute fully to its success.

“Together with our partners, we will focus on measures to help the healing process and to build confidence among the people and the children so as to ensure a peaceful, stable environment for the country and the region,” she said.