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Refugee homes destroyed in Côte d'Ivoire

Briefing notes

Refugee homes destroyed in Côte d'Ivoire

24 September 2002

UNHCR is helping about 200 refugees, mostly from Sierra Leone and Liberia, whose homes were destroyed in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, following last week's coup attempt. The refugees gathered Saturday and again on Sunday in front of the UNHCR office. All reported that their homes in Abidjan's impoverished Adjamé district had been burned. The district is near the Agban Gendarmerie, where fierce fighting took place last week. Police forces have reportedly burned houses in that district, which is largely populated by immigrants from several African countries, in an apparent attempt to root out potential dissidents.

The 200 refugees, who are all registered by UNHCR in Côte d'Ivoire, have been sheltered at a CARITAS medical centre in Trechville, in hotel rooms and at an IOM centre in 2-Plateaux. UNHCR distributed bread, sardines and other supplies, some of it donated to our office by local residents in a sign of solidarity with those who lost their homes. Security guards have been hired to ensure at the shelter sites.

Refugees arrived at the UNHCR office throughout the weekend, but by Monday there were only a handful. UNHCR is sending teams to the CARITAS and IOM centres to inform registered Sierra Leonean refugees about conditions in their homeland and to offer them the option of going home. Meanwhile, new sites are being sought in order to accommodate potential new arrivals at our offices.

As of yesterday, there were no reported movements of refugees from Côte d'Ivoire to any of its five neighbouring countries. The border with Ghana was reportedly closed on Sunday afternoon, as was the one with Mali.