UN High Commissioner for Refugees calls for urgent resolution of Côte d'Ivoire crisis
GENEVA - As tensions rise and people continue to flee their homes in Côte d'Ivoire, The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres today called for an urgent end to the political stalemate which is paralyzing the country and provoking violence.
"The political blockade is becoming more deeply entrenched causing the humanitarian situation to get worse and worse," Mr. Guterres said. "People are very afraid."
Mr. Guterres expressed concern that there were already at least 35,000 refugees registered by UNHCR in neighbouring Liberia who fled the mounting instability back home.
The High Commissioner also noted that UNHCR has already registered 35,000 internally displaced people in the western part of Côte d'Ivoire who are in dire need of shelter and basic aid. UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations are mounting an emergency response to address their pressing needs.
"If the situation continues, we face the risk of a possible massive displacement of Ivorians," Mr. Guterres said. He noted that this could also negatively impact Liberia, a country just recovering from its own civil war, and other countries in the region. "Given these circumstances, I commend Liberia for its open border policy and the Liberian people who have so generously opened their homes and shared their scarce resources." Mr. Guterres appealed for international solidarity with the Ivorian people and the Liberians who are hosting them.
"Urgent international political action is necessary to resolve the stalemate and restore calm," Mr. Guterres added. "All citizens of Côte d'Ivoire should feel secure at home and no longer forced to flee in search of safety."