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January 09, 2011

Liberia Green Lights Camp to Shelter Ivorian Refugees

by Julia Ritchey

Liberia's government has given the go-ahead to build a refugee camp for the 22,000 Ivorians who have already fled the violent, political crisis in Ivory Coast.


The head of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission says the country is doing all it can to accommodate Ivorian refugees who have flooded across Liberia's border.

Wheatonia Dixon Barnes said Nimba County residents who had been hosting the refugees are now being overwhelmed by their numbers.

“The exhaustion capacity of the 23 villages that have been hosting them is really stressed, so we have to look at the next level. So the green light has been given to the international partners, or humanitarian partners, to start the camp process,” Barnes said.

She says the camp will be built on a 80 to 120 hectare plot and should accommodate about 30,000 Ivorian refugees.

Barnes says they are trying to move refugees farther away from the border to villages that are closer to where the camp will be built.

“Right now there are some difficulties getting access to the refugees where they are located,” Barnes added. “So we are encouraging them to slowly gravitate toward those places where we have distribution centers, more clinics, etc.”

One Ivorian refugee says he is hopeful the stalemate between self-proclaimed President Laurent Gbagbo, and Alassane Ouattara will soon be resolved.

“I have my parents, my children, in Cote d'Ivoire, so for this reason I want peace to return as soon as possible,”
Ivorian refugee said.

With no end to the crisis currently in sight, many refugees say they will continue to pray for peace.