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Continuing mission to West Africa, UN aid official meets President of Burkina Faso

Continuing mission to West Africa, UN aid official meets President of Burkina Faso

Carolyn McAskie
A top United Nations relief official, who is now on a month-long mission to West Africa, met today in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, with President Blaise Compaore.

During the meeting, President Compaore told Carolyn McAskie, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, how the crisis in that country impacted Burkina Faso's economy, including losses in revenue for the private sector and increases in the prices of consumer goods. The UN estimates that some 60,000 migrant workers have returned to Burkina Faso from Côte d'Ivoire since violence erupted in September.

Over the weekend, Ms. McAskie will go to Liberia, where she plans to visit Ivorians in refugee camps there.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has now resumed most of its operations in Côte d'Ivoire after a three-day suspension following unrest in Abidjan and general insecurity in the rest of the country last weekend. Since the partial resumption on Wednesday, another 235 Liberian refugees have been transported from Tabou, in western Côte d'Ivoire, across the Cavaly River to Liberia. Refugees are still being targeted in various parts of the country, and many are so desperate they have asked UNHCR to simply arrange for free passage past several vigilante checkpoints on the Côte d'Ivoire side of the border river.

In a related development, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) today reiterated an urgent appeal, issued a week ago by Ms. McAskie, to ensure the security and protection of human rights of the civilian population. In her meeting with Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo on January 23, Ms. McAskie raised concern over the continued destruction of shantytowns in Abidjan, despite the President's declaration last October to halt such destruction.