News / Africa

Ivory Coast Refugees Living With Former Liberian Refugees

Women pound cassava in the village of Zeaglo near the Liberia border in western Ivory Coast, April 19, 2011
Women pound cassava in the village of Zeaglo near the Liberia border in western Ivory Coast, April 19, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Bigger refugee camps are going up along Liberia's eastern border for more than 150,000 people who fled Ivory Coast's political crisis, earlier this year.  Many Ivorian refugees are living in local villages with friends they made during Liberia's civil war.

Nearly 4,000 Ivorian refugees have tripled the population of the Liberian border village, Janzon.  Fleeing political unrest at home, they found old friends in Liberia.  Janzon chief James Mowon lived 14 years in Ivory Coast, during Liberia's civil war.

"Before 1990, we ran away and went to Ivory Coast," said Mowon.  "Nobody would be in this area.  So we stayed there for about 14 years.  My very self I didn't go in the camp.  I was in the town for those years.  So now when they come, I have to hold [help] them and do my best."

Mowon is sharing his home in Janzon with the man who took him in in Ivory Coast, Alphonse Bade.

Bade says Chief Mowon and his family came to live with them during Liberia's civil war. Now they have come to his village along with people from 11 other Ivorian villages.  Bade says they are welcome here and have been given land to farm and build houses.

The United Nations refugee agency's Sianie Zaza Kolubah says the reception in Janzon has been remarkable.

"They are so hospitable to the refugees," said Kolubah.  "Even if services are delayed in going to that community, they are already integrated in the community making their farms on land provided by the local community, and they have got houses built there to shelter them also."

With the Liberian government trying to move more Ivorians into camps, Kolubah says many of the refugees in Janzon intend to stay put.

"During the Liberian war, refugees who left from Liberia to Ivory Coast stopped with people who also fled this Ivorian war," Kolubah added.  "So those who were hosted as Liberian refugees in Ivory Coast do not want their host to go to the camp. They want them to stay with them no matter what it is.  So, [with] these kind of refugees, it will be hard for them to go to the camp."

Bade says it is not yet safe enough to go home, so Ivorian refugees are settling in to Janzon where he says they are respected like family.

We speak the same language, Bade says. When Liberians were in danger, they came to Ivory Coast.  Now that Ivorians are in danger, they have come to Liberia.  It is what Bade calls "a fraternal union."

Aid groups are in Janzon to help the refugees and their hosts.  The U.N. refugee agency and World Food Program are delivering food. There is free health care at the clinic provided by the British medical group Merlin.

With another 11,000 Ivorian refugees living in areas around Janzon, Chief Mowon says the people of his village are prepared for the long-haul because they know how long they were refugees themselves.

"I am appealing to them not to go yet," said Mowon.  "Let them be with me. Whether 10 or 15 years, they will be here."

Many refugees say they would rather stay in villages where they are closer to the border, closer to the crops they have planted and are living with friends and family. For the moment, the government of Liberia says relocation to refugee camps is not mandatory.


You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid