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UNHCR urges suspension of all returns to Côte d'Ivoire

Briefing notes

UNHCR urges suspension of all returns to Côte d'Ivoire

21 January 2011

With serious instability continuing in Côte d'Ivoire, UNHCR is pleased to note the constructive cooperation of the surrounding countries towards refugees. Guinea and Liberia have formally declared that they will recognize people fleeing Côte d'Ivoire as refugees on a prima facie basis. In Europe, meanwhile, a number of countries have halted returns, including those of failed asylum seekers.

UNHCR is this morning issuing a return position to governments worldwide urging them to follow suit and suspend all returns to Côte d'Ivoire pending improvements in the security and human rights situation.

Since the elections on 28 November there have been numerous incidents of violence and reports of serious human rights violations, including against women, children and displaced people. Abductions, disappearances, extrajudicial executions and acts of sexual violence have been reported in Abidjan and elsewhere.

Currently there remain some 18,000 people displaced internally in western parts of the country, and around 30,000 refugees in neighbouring Liberia, while in Guinea we have registered 340 refugees so far. The numbers of people arriving in Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso is significantly smaller, and below the level that would trigger an emergency response by UNHCR.