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Refugees Magazine Issue 106 (Focus : 1996 in review) - The way of life in Peacetown

Refugees Magazine, 1 December 1996

By Francis Kaptindé

The name of this village, nestled among palm groves, reflects its way of life: Peacetown. Located 400 kms west of Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire, Peacetown is the antithesis of the murderous fighting that has been tearing Liberia apart for more than six years. Here, the houses are decked with flowers and large signs at the entrance of the village welcome visitors.

Peacetown was founded by the survivors of an attack on the village of Tai, 80 kms further south, carried out by the Liberian Peace Council in June 1995. The attack resulted in 32 dead and caused other refugees to flee. In their flight, the refugees halted in the region of Guiglo. Peacetown was born.

Here oil lamps are used for light. No one dies of hunger. There are no beggars. People farm and tend their little flocks. And,occasionally, they do business. The maquis, those cheap restaurants so famous in many West African countries, are numerous in Peacetown. So, one may taste "bicycle chicken" at the Silver and Gold Restaurant, rice with tomato and cassava sauce at the Kings and Queens or at the Potato Green Soup.

However, Peacetown is not free of problems. Medicines are in short supply or are sold at exorbitant prices. However, churches of the most varied denominations abound and are never empty on the Lord's day. God watches over Peacetown.

Source: Refugees Magazine Issue 106 (1996)

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UNHCR country pages

New flows of Ivorian refugees into Liberia

As of late March, more than 100,000 Ivorian refugees had crossed into eastern Liberia since lingering political tension from a disputed presidential election in neighbouring Côte d' Ivoire erupted into violence in February. Most have gone to Liberia's Nimba County, but in a sign that the fighting has shifted, some 6,000 Ivorians recently fled across the border into Liberia's Grand Gedeh County. Most of the new arrivals have settled in remote villages - some inaccessible by car. The UN refugee agency sent a mission to assess the needs of the refugees in the region.

Photographer Glenna Gordon photographed new arrivals near Zwedru in south-eastern Liberia.

New flows of Ivorian refugees into Liberia

Refugees move to new camp in Liberia

UNHCR has begun transferring refugees from Côte d'Ivoire to a new refugee camp in the north-eastern Liberian town of Bahn. Over the coming weeks UNHCR hopes to move up to 15,000 refugees into the facility, which has been carved out of the jungle. They are among almost 40,000 civilians from Côte d'Ivoire who have fled to escape mounting political tension in their country since the presidential election in late November.

The final number of people to move to Bahn will depend on how many wish to be relocated.from villages near the Liberia-Côte d'Ivoire border. Initially most of the refugees were taken in by host communities, living side-by-side with locals. Poor road conditions made it difficult for humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance. Supplies of food, medicine and water have been running low, making conditions difficult for both locals and refugees.

At the camp in Bahn, refugees will have easy access to basic services such as health care, clean water and primary school education.

Refugees move to new camp in Liberia

Photo Gallery: The Challenge of Forced Displacement in Africa

Africa is the continent most affected by the tragedy of forced displacement. While millions of refugees were able to return to Angola, Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda and South Sudan over the last 15 years, the numbers of internally displaced people continued to grow. At the beginning of 2009, in addition to some 2.3 million refugees, an estimated 11.6 million people were internally displaced by conflict in Africa.

To address forced displacement on the continent, the African Union is organizing a special summit on refugees, returnees and internally displaced people from October 19-23 in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Heads of state and government will look at the challenges and at ways to find solutions to forced displacement. They are also expected to adopt a Convention for the protection and assistance of internally displaced people (IDP) in Africa, which would be the first legally binding instrument on internal displacement with a continental scope. This photo gallery looks at some of the forcibly displaced around Africa, many of whom are helped by UNHCR.

Photo Gallery: The Challenge of Forced Displacement in Africa

Liberia: A Neighbour's HelpPlay video

Liberia: A Neighbour's Help

Alphonse Gonglegbe fled to Liberia with his family a few months ago. He appreciates the help he's been receiving in this land neighbouring his native Côte d'Ivoire.
Liberia: Hurried FlightPlay video

Liberia: Hurried Flight

Tens of thousands of Ivorians have fled their villages and sought shelter in Liberia. Francis says he ran for his life and now he wants safety and food.
Liberia: Settling InPlay video

Liberia: Settling In

A dozen new shelters are built every day in Liberia's Bahn refugee camp. Eventually there will be 3,000 shelters for some of the many civilians who have fled from neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire.