UNHCR re-establishes presence in western Côte d'Ivoire
UNHCR last week re-established a presence in western Côte d'Ivoire following last January's violent destruction of the premises of several humanitarian organisations in the town of Guiglo. This led to the departure of most humanitarian staff and United Nations peacekeepers.
Last week, we opened a new operational base in Duékué, 20 minutes north of Guiglo. The office will be manned by two international staff who will be making daily trips to Guiglo. An additional 10 national staff will be working in Duékué and Guiglo.
During demonstrations in January, UNHCR's premises were looted and the building was set on fire. All files were lost, as well as five cars, one motorcycle, and three generators. Warehouses containing relief items and food were also looted. Losses for UNHCR were estimated at US $350,000. Other UN agencies and several international NGOs suffered similar losses.
From January to March, UNHCR staff undertook regular missions from Abidjan to Guiglo to ensure a continuing presence and to provide food, health, water and sanitation assistance to some 10,000 Liberian refugees in the area. UNHCR has been in Guiglo for more than 10 years, working on behalf of refugees and the local host population.
Most of the 37,500 refugees registered in Côte d'Ivoire live in the western part of the country, including some 6,000 in Nicla camp, near Guiglo, and more than 4,000 others in the surrounding community. We hope that half of these refugees will be able to return home to Liberia this year.