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Côte d'Ivoire: 30,000 flee in a week

Briefing notes

Côte d'Ivoire: 30,000 flee in a week

6 December 2002

Fighting in Côte d'Ivoire has driven more than 30,000 people from the country over the past week with most fleeing to Liberia and Guinea. In another alarming development, UNHCR has lost contact with more than 45,000 mostly Liberian refugees in western Côte d'Ivoire. Telephone lines have been cut and access to the fighting zone is barred. Sketchy reports indicate that many Liberian refugees are now headed home fleeing the violence.

Over the past week, more than 27,000 people were registered at five major crossing points into Liberia. More than 2,600 of them are Ivorian nationals, while the rest are Liberians rushing home due to the fighting. Significant numbers of them are going back to Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Bong Counties, in the East of Liberia. Others are joining relatives in the capital, Monrovia.

UNHCR in Liberia has sent 13 trucks to the east of the country in order to transport people from border points to Kanplay, in Nimba County, which is used as a transit centre. Road conditions have, however, made it difficult in some points to reach the border areas. UNHCR's partners on the ground are providing essential water, health care and vaccinations. Additional shelters are being put up.

In Guinea, some 2,800 people have been registered crossing the border from Côte d'Ivoire since last Friday. They include 853 Ivorian refugees, 741 Liberians and 1,151 Guineans who returned from Côte d'Ivoire in the light of the deteriorating situation there. The rest are of other nationalities. Most of the new arrivals are in Guinea's Lola Prefecture, immediately opposite the Danané and Man areas of Côte d'Ivoire where fighting has been taking place since last week. The recent arrivals are very tired, many of them having walked for six or seven days. For the time being, all registered people are still at the main border crossings, staying in temporary shelters or with host families. Our staff are working hard to prepare for a speedy transfer of the new refugees to Nonah transit centre and Lainé Camp near Nzérékoré.