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



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

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Indian PM Calls for Unity Amid Tense Climate Over Beef Attacks

Recent series of beef-related incidents seen as signs of rising intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities More

Why These Are New York City's Most Treasured Spaces

Under threat of jail time and fines, some New York property owners are not allowed to renovate their spaces without prior approval More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs