The United Nations refugee agency has opened a sixth camp for Ivorians who fled the post-election violence in their country and have been living with host communities in neighbouring Liberia.
“The aim is to improve protection and assistance for the refugees, as they are currently scattered across 300 different remote locations along the border,” Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.
The new camp which opened yesterday is the largest of the Ivorian camps, according to the agency. It is located in Grand Gedeh county in south-eastern Liberia and can accommodate up to 27,000 refugees.
“The refugees who are relocating say they are not yet ready to return home,” said Mr. Edwards.
“By moving into the camp further inland, they can enjoy better services such as monthly food supply, medical care, education, water and sanitation, as well as privacy as they will have family shelters in the camps.”
The five other existing camps together host some 30,000 Ivorian refugees. More than 173,000 Ivorians are estimated to have crossed into Liberia in the wake of last November’s election and the ensuing instability. There are also some 26,000 Ivorian refugees in 12 other countries in the region.
UNHCR said it expects to move 50,000 more refugees to the six camps by the end of this year, despite logistical challenges posed by heavy seasonal rains and muddy roads.
It is expected that the new camp will be the last to be opened in Liberia, as the security situation continues to improve in Côte d’Ivoire, said Mr. Edwards.
He added that up to some 70,000 refugees are estimated to have already repatriated to western Côte d’Ivoire on their own in recent months.