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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid