Briefing Notes, 2 September 2011
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 2 September 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Yesterday, in Liberia, we opened a sixth camp for Ivorian refugees who have been living with host communities near the border since fleeing the post-election unrest in Côte d'Ivoire. The aim is to improve protection and assistance for the refugees, as they are currently scattered across 300 different remote locations along the border.
The refugees who are relocating say they are not yet ready to return home. By moving into the camp further inland, they can enjoy better services such as monthly food supply, medical care, education, water and sanitation, as well as privacy as they will have family shelters in the camps.
The newest camp is located in Grand Gedeh county in south-eastern Liberia. It is on the site of the former Prime Timber Production (PTP) company, part of which has been rehabilitated to accommodate up to 27,000 refugees. This is the largest of the Ivorian camps. The other camps – which together host some 30,000 Ivorian refugees – are Bahn in Nimba county; Little Wlebo in Maryland county, and Solo, Dougee, and Ziah – all in Grand Gedeh county.
The opening of the PTP camp is part of a relocation operation that is taking place along the border. We expect to move 50,000 more refugees to the six camps by the end of this year, despite logistical challenges posed by heavy seasonal rains and muddy roads.
Under current planning the PTP camp will be the last to be opened in Liberia, as the security situation continues to improve in Côte d'Ivoire. Up to some 70,000 refugees are estimated to have already repatriated to western Côte d'Ivoire on their own in recent months.
On 11 August, the governments of Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees. The agreement sets the legal framework for the refugees' voluntary return in safety and dignity. We are working on the modalities of an organized repatriation movement for which a launch date has yet to be agreed.
More than 173,000 Ivorians are estimated to have crossed into Liberia in the wake of last November's election and the ensuing instability. In addition, there are an estimated 26,000 Ivorian refugees in 12 other countries in the region.
For further information on this topic, please contact: