Pockets of refugees from Togo located in remote areas

Briefing Notes, 13 May 2005

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 13 May 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The post-electoral refugee outflow from Togo into neighbouring Benin and Ghana has slowed across the major border crossing points but pockets of refugees who have crossed over informally have been recently located in both countries, pushing the combined total of refugees to 26,084. This is up from 23,186 on Monday.

In Ghana, the daily number of new arrivals at the main Aflao border crossing adjacent to the Togolese capital Lomé, is now down to a single digit trickle with only three arriving on Thursday. However, a joint mobile monitoring mission by UNHCR, the government and a non-governmental organisation over the last few days has located additional arrivals, some in very remote and inaccessible areas along the border. This could provisionally boost the number of refugees in Ghana to around 12,800. We are currently verifying the arrival figures. Some of the refugees were in poor condition and required immediate food and non-food assistance. Refugees started fleeing general insecurity in Togo after the election results were announced on 26 April.

On Friday, there were 10,866 registered refugees in Ghana. After a surge of some 850 refugees returning to Togo on Sunday and Monday ahead of the working week, the pace of returns has slowed sharply with 15 refugees noted returning on Thursday. We are currently verifying departures and consolidating figures. While most refugees in Ghana have found shelter with generous family and friends, their resources are now beginning to run low and there is an increasing need to distribute food and non-food assistance such as mats, jerry cans, mosquito nets, soap etc. A joint UN interagency food needs assessment mission is now taking place along a 200 km stretch of the eastern border with Togo from the Jasikan/Kadjebi area south to Aflao. It is expected to report its findings next week.

In Benin, 15,218 refugees are now registered, with a steady pace of arrivals ranging between 140 -150 a day, registered at the main Hilakondji border crossing. This is sharply down from the peak of the influx where over 1,000 refugees a day were arriving daily. While most refugees continue to arrive at Hilakondji, several hundred refugees have been located sheltering in central Benin in the Collines, Otola and Djidja areas km approx. 230 km north of the capital of Cotonou.

Around 59 per cent of the refugee population in Benin are living with family or friends with 41 per cent living at the two camps sites of Lokossa and Come. There are no longer refugees staying at the Hilakondji transit centre located on church grounds. Facilities at both camps are being upgraded with the construction of extra latrines and showers.

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Benin: Influx from Togo

More than 30,000 people fled Togo to seek security in neighbouring countries when violence erupted with the announcement of election results on April 26, 2005. The outflow slowed in the ensuing weeks, but Benin and Ghana continue to register daily arrivals.

More than half of the refugees arrived in Benin, many through the main crossing point at Hilakondji. The majority stayed with friends and host families, while several thousand were moved from a church compound near Hilakondji to Come and Lokossa camps. More land is being cleared at Lokossa to accommodate more of the new arrivals. UNHCR and its partners are providing food and relief items and building sanitation facilities.

In Ghana, most of the Togolese are living with relatives and friends, but these host families are now running low on resources. Aid agencies are working to meet the increasing need to distribute food and relief items like mats, jerry cans, mosquito nets and soap.

Benin: Influx from Togo

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