Togo: 40,000 have now fled post-election instability

Briefing Notes, 2 August 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 2 August 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The number of Togolese fleeing post-election instability to take refuge in neighbouring countries has now passed 40,000, with over 24,500 arrivals registered in Benin and 15,500 in Ghana. Our team in Benin says the rate of new arrivals has been steadily decreasing over the past few weeks, with only about 200 people a week now being registered. At the height of the crisis, shortly after the April presidential election results that were followed by violent street protests, Benin was registering several thousand new arrivals every week. No new arrivals have been reported in Ghana since late May.

The majority of the refugees are scattered across a large area in both Ghana and Benin. In Benin, 10,000 refugees are staying in two camps in Come and Lokossa, while another 14,500 are living with local communities. We are currently assessing the impact of the presence of such large numbers of asylum seekers living outside the two established camps in order to provide more targeted assistance.

In Ghana, Togolese refugees are exclusively living with local communities, spread across 114 different locations, along a 400 kilometre-stretch in the Volta Region. Some 12,000 of the 15,500 refugees have now been registered in greater detail. A house-to-house survey in the Aflao area, the main Ghanaian border area adjacent to the Togolese capital of Lomé, confirmed the presence of more then 6,000 refugees. Another 5,600 were registered in the northern part of the Volta region.

Registration and verification exercises are ongoing in both countries to help us firm up plans to better assist both refugees and their host communities in the vital areas of health, water, sanitation and education. However, we are facing a significant shortfall in the amount of money we have asked from donors to carry out this work, which may severely affect the assistance we can offer.

UNHCR needs 4.7 million US dollars to cater to the needs of all the Togolese refugees in Ghana and Benin, as well as to provide limited assistance to internally displaced Togolese. So far, we have received 1.75 million dollars for Benin only, and have made an allocation of 1.5 million dollars from our Operational Reserve to cover the immediate regional needs. This leaves us with a shortfall of 1.45 million dollars for the entire operation. There are no signs that the refugees are intending to return home in the immediate future and it is crucial that donors respond to our request for funds to assist this population.