Togo exodus nears 7,000 mark; new Benin camp ready for refugees
GENEVA, April 29 (UNHCR) - A new camp and dispatch of aid supplies are underway in Benin as the refugee exodus from Togo continues to grow. At last count, neighbouring Benin and Ghana had received close to 7,000 new arrivals in the last three days.
The situation in Togo's capital, Lomé, is reportedly still volatile after violence broke out on Tuesday with the announcement of the election results. Since then, 6,263 people fleeing the general insecurity have arrived in Benin. UNHCR is currently assisting 1,300 of them - 700 at Come site and some 600 who are living on church grounds at the Hilakondji border. The rest are living with host families, given the close family and tribal ties between Togolese and Beninese in the southern area.
"Today, another camp, Lokassa, will be ready to receive about 1,000 refugees," said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond in Geneva on Friday. "Water and sanitation are already in place and tents are being erected this morning by the Beninese army."
UNHCR is sending a three-person emergency team to Benin this weekend to boost its presence on the ground, and a second three-person team is on standby.
Prior to the Togolese elections, the refugee agency had already pre-positioned supplies for 2,500 people in Benin. They include blankets, tents, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and kitchen sets from the agency's regional stockpile in Accra, Ghana. To supplement these relief items, UNHCR is sending a 10-truck convoy from Accra on Saturday with supplies for a further 5,000 people in Benin. The convoy will travel through Burkina Faso on a three-day, 1,600-km journey.
Meanwhile, UNHCR in Ghana has reported the arrival of 628 Togolese refugees since Tuesday. Fifty-nine Ghanaian nationals have also returned home from Togo.
"We are also concerned about the welfare of some 1,200 urban refugees of various nationalities - mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Côte d'Ivoire - living in Togo's capital," said Redmond.
He added, "UNHCR is urging Togolese politicians to find a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, and to avoid triggering a humanitarian emergency. We are closely monitoring the situation."