More Togolese refugees found in remote parts of Ghana, Benin

News Stories, 13 May 2005

© UNHCR/J.Leduc
Togolese refugees in Benin's Come camp.

GENEVA, May 13 (UNHCR) While the exodus from Togo has slowed considerably in recent days, the UN refugee agency has found groups of previously undetected arrivals living in poor conditions in remote areas of Benin and Ghana.

The total number of people fleeing post-election violence in Togo has now reached 26,203, including 15,337 in Benin and 10,866 in Ghana. The number of daily arrivals has dropped drastically, with three new refugees registered at Ghana's main Aflao border post on Thursday and 140-150 registered per day at Benin's main Hilakondji border crossing, down from a daily high of more than 1,000 arrivals.

However, in Ghana, a mobile team comprising staff of UNHCR, government and non-government organisations has found more Togolese refugees in remote and inaccessible parts of the border. This could possibly boost Ghana's refugee number to 12,800. Some of the refugees are in very poor condition and need urgent food and non-food assistance.

Most of the Togolese in Ghana are living with relatives and friends, but these host families are running low on resources and there is an increasing need to distribute food and relief items like mats, jerry cans, mosquito nets and soap. A UN assessment mission is now travelling along a 200-km stretch of Ghana-Togo border from Jasikan/Kadjebi to Aflao to assess the food needs in the area.

Refugee returns to Togo from Ghana, which numbered 850 on Sunday and Monday, have fallen to just 15 on Thursday. UNHCR is consolidating figures after verifying these departures and arrivals.

Meanwhile in Benin, UNHCR has found some 1,000 Togolese refugees living in four villages in the Tchetti area. Some are sleeping in public buildings with permission from the local authorities, while others are staying with host families. There is no electricity, limited drinking water, difficult communications in the area, but the refugees have declined to move to camps, and requested assistance to stay among their family and friends.

Caritas has distributed food in the area, while the Ministry of Health has given out mosquito nets. Health centres have been asked to provide free medical care.

More than half of the Togolese in Benin are staying with host families, while over 5,000 have been moved to Come (1,344) and Lokossa (3,773) camps. Facilities at both camps have been upgraded, with the UN Children's Fund building additional latrines, showers and taps. Another 3 hectares of land are being cleared at Lokossa camp to transfer more refugees from church grounds at Hilakondji which had been serving as a transit centre.