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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid