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Ivorian Refugees in Ghana Fear Increase Electoral Violence

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Ivorian Refugees in Ghana Fear Increased Electoral Violence
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Ivorian Refugees in Ghana Fear Increased Electoral Violence

Violence in Ivory Coast after the 2010 election killed 3,000 people and sent thousands more fleeing into neighboring Ghana.

Ten years later, many Ivorians — including those still living in Ghana — fear clashes leading up to Saturday's vote could trigger another round of unrest.

Yves Glazibo was one of the 20,000 Ivorians who fled across the border after the 2010 election, after then-President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Alassane Ouattara.

The Ampain Refugee Camp, shown on Oct. 28, 2020, is home to about 3,000 Ivorian refugees. (Stacey Knott/VOA)
The Ampain Refugee Camp, shown on Oct. 28, 2020, is home to about 3,000 Ivorian refugees. (Stacey Knott/VOA)

This year, Ouattara is running for a controversial third term, prompting opposition parties to call for an election boycott and civil disobedience.

Since 2011, Glazibo — not his real name — has lived at the Ampain refugee camp, close to the border with Ivory Coast, with about 3,000 other Ivorians.

He, like many others in the camp, is watching the news come out of Ivory Coast in this election — and is fearing the worst.

"The same election who brings war, it be the same election that comes just now to Côte d'Ivoire, we are looking at the moving — the TV, you see Côte d'Ivoire just now, peace no dey [no peace] — peace no dey at Côte d'Ivoire," Glazibo said.

Already, there are Ivorians coming into Ghana, trying to seek asylum.

Madam Djety escaped the last election violence — in which she said her family was targeted. She said those who are now entering Ghana feel the country is becoming dangerous.

"When I talk, when I ask them, they are telling me that the situation in Côte d'Ivoire, it’s getting worse," Djety said, "Killing is so much going on, so they have to find a way to leave Côte d'Ivoire to protect themselves.”

Experts have also expressed concerns about the tension in Ivory Coast ahead of Saturday’s election.

On Oct. 27, 2020, Tetteh Padi, from the Ghana Refugee Board says the board is processing Ivorians entering Ghana for asylum. (Stacey Knott/VOA)
On Oct. 27, 2020, Tetteh Padi, from the Ghana Refugee Board says the board is processing Ivorians entering Ghana for asylum. (Stacey Knott/VOA)

Tetteh Padi from the Ghana Refugee Board says a small number of Ivorians have fled across the border, and the board is registering them as refugees.

“We have noticed that a few people have indicated that they want to come into Ghana, but as you know the borders have been closed due to the pandemic so we don’t have that flow, at least not yet," Padi said. "We are not seeing large numbers coming in.”

Back at the camp, father of five Alain Yehe said he wants to return home to Ivory Coast but not until it’s safe.

"I miss my country. I lost my parents who were there," Yehe said. "Since then, I haven’t gone to Côte d'Ivoire. I don't know if my mother is still alive. So truly, I miss my country."

Yehe adds, "If my country is free, I don't have any problem, I will go back.”

For now, those here will be watching what happens this weekend — and praying history does not repeat itself.

On Oct. 28, 2020, Ivorian refugees at the camp say it has not been safe for them to return home. (Stacey Knott/VOA)
On Oct. 28, 2020, Ivorian refugees at the camp say it has not been safe for them to return home. (Stacey Knott/VOA)

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