Number of Ivorian refugees in Liberia tops 25,000 – UN agency
The United Nations refugee agency said today that there are now some 25,000 Ivorian refugees in neighbouring Liberia, with around 600 people arriving daily after fleeing the post-electoral crisis in their homeland.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has started work on a new camp for refugees in the eastern Liberian town of Bahn which will be able to initially house about 18,000 people.
“The camp is urgently needed to better protect the refugees and to ease pressure on Liberian communities that have been hosting people in some 23 villages along the border with Côte d’Ivoire,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.
The political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire began after incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after being defeated by his challenger, Alassane Ouattara, in the November run-off election.
The polls were meant to help reunify the West African nation, which was split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.
Instead, has sparked fears of a return to civil war and has led to a new crisis, marked by incitement to hatred and violence, human rights violations, attacks against civilians as well as peacekeepers serving with the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and increasing displacement.
In addition to those that fled to Liberia, some 16,000 people have been forced to leave their villages and take refuge in the towns of Duékoué, Man and Danané in western Côte d’Ivoire, according to UNHCR. Calm has returned to Duékoué in the past three days, which is allowing UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies to assist the displaced.