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

Nigeria: The Casualties of Conflict

One year after the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in the northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, violence continues to displace people within Nigeria and to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, including some 22,000 Nigerian refugees. Civilians trapped at home face recurrent attacks by insurgents, with a series of kidnappings and killings culminating in mid-April this year in the abduction of more than 200 girls from a school in Chibok, Borno.

UNHCR's Hélène Caux recently travelled to the region to meet with some of the 250,000 internally displaced, including students caught up in the violence. Those she spoke to told her about their fears, and the atrocities and suffering they had endured or witnessed. People spoke about their homes and fields being destroyed, grenade attacks on markets, the killing of friends and relatives, and arbitrary arrests. Uniting them is an overwhelming sense of terror. Caux found it a challenge to photograph people who live in constant fear of being attacked. "It was this delicate balance to try to achieve between featuring them, communicating their stories and protecting them," she said.

Nigeria: The Casualties of Conflict

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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