New camp for IDPs in western Côte d'Ivoire

Briefing Notes, 15 February 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 15 February 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR began work yesterday on clearing ground for a new camp for displaced people in western Côte d'Ivoire, where we have so far registered 38,600 uprooted individuals. Humanitarian conditions have deteriorated with the shortage of shelter and our hope is that the new camp will ease pressure, in particular for the most vulnerable.

The new camp is located near Duékoué town and will accommodate up to 6,000 people, relieving crowding at a nearby Catholic mission which has been a main site for the displaced. Heavy rains last week destroyed a number of makeshift shelters in the mission compound and we have provided tents to some of the affected families.

Many of the displaced have been surviving on the generosity of local families and charities, especially in Duékoué. In Danané, Binhouye and Zouan-Hounien districts over 8,600 IDPs are staying with local families some of whom are sheltering up to 25 people each and struggling to make ends meet. We are looking for additional sites to accommodate more IDPs.

Most of the displaced in western Côte d'Ivoire fled their homes in mid-December and early January as a result of ethnic tension and violence following the presidential elections of last November. In Duékoué, people told our teams that they could not return to their homes as these had been burned down and possessions looted. Some IDPs in the west have reported physical and sexual violence, as well as arbitrary detention by armed groups acting with impunity. Fear of retaliation combined with the absence or paralysis of judicial institutions has prevented many people from reporting such abuses. UNHCR remains concerned that the political deadlock is causing widespread fear and, if not resolved, could result in displacement on a massive scale.

Civilians remain traumatized by the recent troubles, which many see as reminiscent of the civil conflict of 2002. As a result, many families have left their homes in anticipation of possible attack. They tell us that they fear becoming trapped in case of renewed war and will only consider returning to their homes once the political deadlock is resolved and their security assured.

Meanwhile, continued tension is driving some families to move closer to the border with Liberia while others are crossing the border to seek asylum. So far UNHCR has registered 36,318 arrivals in Liberia.




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Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

During Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war more than 1 million people were uprooted from their homes or forced to flee, often repeatedly. Many found shelter in UNHCR-supported Open Relief Centers, in government welfare centers or with relatives and friends.

In February 2002, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire accord and began a series of talks aimed at negotiating a lasting peace. By late 2003, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their often destroyed towns and villages.

In the midst of these returns, UNHCR provided physical and legal protection to war affected civilians – along with financing a range of special projects to provide new temporary shelter, health and sanitation facilities, various community services, and quick and cheap income generation projects.

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

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

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

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.