Togo: Steady outflow continues

Briefing Notes, 10 June 2005

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 10 June 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

There has been little change in the pace of the outflow of refugees from Togo over the last week, with the total number in neighbouring Benin and Ghana slowly climbing to 36,809 compared to 35,743 last Friday. All new arrivals are in Benin on Togo's eastern border with some 100 refugees registered daily at the main border crossing point at Hilakondji, and similar numbers registering in the capital Cotonou. Most of the new arrivals are young men, many saying they are fleeing from fear of abductions, disappearances and targeting by security forces. There are now 21,641 refugees in Benin, with nearly 8,000 sheltering at two camp sites at Come and Agame/Lokossa. The remainder are staying with family or friends. UNHCR is trucking in further non-food supplies for 2,500 people from its regional emergency stockpile in Accra, Ghana. We have also delivered 2,000 mosquito nets for internally displaced people inside Togo, as part of the UN inter-agency collaborative effort. UNHCR is planning to open a field office in Lomé shortly, and additional non-food items will be transported from Accra as part of the interagency aid effort. UNHCR welcomes the creation this week by the Togolese Government of a High Commission for Refugees and Humanitarian Aid.

In Ghana, there have been no new arrivals or departures over the last two weeks and the numbers remain steady at 15,168 registered refugees. Virtually all the refugees are staying with welcoming host families in about 200 different locations spread out over a wide geographical area from North to South Volta region, in both rural and urban areas. The distances and diversity of locations are a major challenge to UNHCR and its partners in delivering assistance targeted at supporting the refugees, host families and communities so this community living situation can be sustained.

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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

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented Sister Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award at a gala ceremony in Geneva on Monday night.

Sister Angélique, through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls who had been forced from their homes and abused by fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) or other armed groups. Many of those she helps suffered abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape or other human rights abuses.

The Roman Catholic nun helps survivors to heal by offering them the chance to learn a trade, start a small business or go to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her "mother."

The Award ceremony featured a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians, Amadou and Mariam.

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

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Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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Benin: Swept by Floods

Recent torrential rains flooded two thirds of Benin. Some 700,000 people in the small West African nation have been affected.