Côte d'Ivoire: UN continues repatriation of Liberians amidst tighter security rules

Côte d'Ivoire: UN continues repatriation of Liberians amidst tighter security rules

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Despite the United Nations recent tightening of security rules for its staff in Côte d’Ivoire because of the deteriorating security situation there, the world body’s refugee agency said today that decision has not directly affected its operations so far, as repatriation efforts continued.

In Tabou, in the southwest of the country, the emergency repatriation of stranded and targeted Liberian refugees continued, as more than 1,780 refugees have returned home with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Some of about 1,000 frightened Liberians who sought refuge in the agency’s office compound in Tabou have now been transferred to a newly rehabilitated transit centre near the city, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva. At the compound were also a number of Liberian nationals not registered as refugees who will be transferred in the coming days to a community shelter in town.

“We hope to transfer all people remaining in our compound by the end of the week,” Mr. Janowski said. “Our operations in Côte d'Ivoire will soon be reinforced by the arrival of an emergency coordinator who will oversee UNHCR's work in all Côte d'Ivoire.”

Since the conflict erupted last September, UNHCR has been forced to redirect its operations from routine assistance and local integration projects for 72,000 Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees to crisis management and provision of emergency relief to refugees directly affected by the turmoil.