News / Africa

Thousands Flee Ivory Coast Stand-Off

Government of Liberia Bureau of Immigration officials register asylum-seekers from Ivory Coast in the town of Loguatuo, in Nimba County
Government of Liberia Bureau of Immigration officials register asylum-seekers from Ivory Coast in the town of Loguatuo, in Nimba County

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says at least 15,000 Ivorians, mostly children, have fled to neighboring Liberia fearing Ivory Coast's violent post-electoral political stand-off could spark civil war. 

Incumbent Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo, continues to refuse to cede power to U.N.-endorsed presidential election winner, Alassane Ouattara, following last month's presidential poll.

The dispute has sparked a violent political power struggle that could reignite a 2002-2003 civil war.

As regional powers continue to seek a diplomatic solution, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says Ivorians are fleeing by the thousands to neighboring Liberia. 

UNHCR has registered just over 15,000 refugees, though there could be as many as 20,000. Nearly two-thirds are children.

U.N. Children's Fund Representative to Liberia, Isabel Crowley, said they anticipate as many 50,000 to 100,000 refugees.

"Everyday we have 1,000 to 2,000 coming through the border. In the beginning, we were having about 200, but now we have got 1,000, 2,000 and -- certain times when there are escalations on the rhetoric in Abidjan - we even have 3,000 people coming through," she said.

The refugees are coming from Ivory Coast's troubled western regions, which experienced some of the worst fighting during the civil war. Local militias fought on the side of government troops against a rebel insurgency from the North.

UNHCR says both Gbagbo and Ouattara supporters are among the refugees.

UNICEF's Crowley said refugees say they fled because they felt threatened, either by the possibility of a rebel attack or because of intimidation by security forces.

She says men often stay behind to look after the property, so the refugees are mainly women and children. Some children are in the care of an older sibling, while UNICEF has encountered others, as young as three years old, who have been abandoned or walked on their own.  

"The refugees are coming in and they obviously have nothing with them, so the urgent needs for children right now  are shelter, safe drinking water, sanitation, food and nutrition and safe living spaces, places where they can play and where we can give some sense of normalcy," said Crowley.

Crowley said many refugees have often walked for days and arrive very hungry and in need of shelter.

Crowley said many have been taken in by Liberian families, most of whom are already very poor. They are dispersed throughout 22 villages in eastern Liberia's Nimba region, which Crowley said presents a hefty challenge for aid workers.

"When you're talking about 22 settlements on a very, very bad road, it is very difficult to access all of the children," she said.

Crowley said the United Nations has been working with the Liberian government, and they are considering the possibility of setting up a camp.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says it is currently distributing emergency aid, but local communities are being stretched to the limit, homes are overcrowded, and supplies are running out.

UNICEF has also noted cases of malaria and diarrhea and is vaccinating refugees against polio, measles and yellow fever to prevent disease outbreaks.

UNICEF is calling for $4 million in funding, which Crowley said would meet the needs of 50,000 refugees for a three month period.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid