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UN Refugee Agency Resumes Operations In Ivory Coast - 2003-01-31

Efforts to help refugees and displaced people in Ivory Coast have often been delayed or put at risk by fighting between the government or rebels or by unrest in Abidjan following criticism of the peace plan.

The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, says it’s especially concerned about Liberian refugees in the country. Spokeswoman Delphine Marine, in Geneva, says the agency has resumed “most of its operations in Ivory Coast after a three-day suspension following unrest in Abidjan and general insecurity.” She says on Wednesday, 235 Liberian refugees were repatriated from Tabou in western Ivory Coast. Another 150 were repatriated Friday.

She says many Liberians have been chased from their homes in recent months, accused of siding with rebels. Ms. Marie says there have also been reports of human rights abuses against Liberians. She says the UNHCR is evaluating the situation “on a day-by-day, even and hour-by-hour basis.”

The UN agency says it’s still been unable to convince any neighboring countries to grant asylum to Liberian refugees. Delphine Marie spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.

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