There’s been a surge in the number of Togolese refugees crossing the borders into Benin and Ghana The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, says despite that the situation remains calm, and most of the refugees are finding shelter with extended families.
Fatima Sinkoun Kaba is the UNHCR’s regional spokesperson for West Africa. From Cotonou, Benin, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the Togolese refugees.
She says, “The number of refugees more than doubled over the weekend because on Friday we were at about 7,000 for the number of arrivals into Benin and Ghana. As of Monday, this morning, we have 9,000 in Benin and another 7,400 plus in Ghana, which brings us to over 16,000. These refugees that have been arriving since the weekend are mostly people that arrived from Lome the capital, which is rather a new trend. Because up to now we were receiving in Benin refugees from Anaho, which is a border area with Benin.”
While most of the refugees are staying with extended families, the UNHCR is helping those with no family ties and taking them to camps. Ms Kaba says, “We have two (camps) in Benin, one at Come, about 80 kilometers from the capital of Benin and another one at Lokassa, which we opened on Saturday. But the Come camp is already full with 1100 refugees. The Lokassa camp, which is about 100 kilometers from the Benin capital, is filling up rather quickly. And we plan to extend the camp to make room for several thousand other refugees should the influx continue at this rate.”
A 10-truck convoy carrying supplies for 5,000 people is expected to arrive Tuesday from Accra, Ghana.
The UNHCR spokesperson says many refugees are listening to the radio to determine when it’s safe to go back. However, she says those who’ve been abused by the police or military say they have no plans to go back at this time.