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At Least 10,000 Ivorians Have Crossed Border Into Liberia

More Ivorians are crossing the border into Liberia. Marie Ellen Verney is a spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, in Geneva.

She says, “We estimate up to, or maybe even more than, 10,000 people have crossed the border into Liberia. The reason it’s so hard to establish the numbers is because it’s hard to reach the refugees to even register them because of the very poor conditions of the roads in the area.”

The refugees are mainly crossing into northeast Liberia. Ms. Verney says, “The majority seems to be concentrated in the border town of Butuo. So the main problem is that they’re entering through a number of border points. We think up to twelve border points. It’s a stretch of border that extends 45 kilometers and the roads are practically impassable, or at least a lot of them are.”

The poor condition of the roads has affected the delivery of relief supplies. Cars, and occasionally helicopters, are being used to deliver food. For remote areas, teams are using motorcycles to reach the refugees.

As for finding shelter, Ms. Verney says, “So far, most of the refugees have taken refuge in public buildings, for example, schools or clinics even, or they are staying with local people.” She spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.