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

    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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora