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Côte d'Ivoire: concern on Abidjan security incidents

Briefing notes

Côte d'Ivoire: concern on Abidjan security incidents

8 November 2002

We remain extremely concerned about security incidents in and around makeshift sites sheltering refugees in Abidjan. On several occasions, security forces entered the sites and carried out random identity checks. The ID checks made the refugees nervous and prompted them to ask UNHCR for more secure accommodation.

UNHCR has rented an additional site to move some of the refugees to a safer place. A big villa with an adjacent plot of land to put up tents has now been rented in Atoba district of the Ivorian capital. It can house more than 350 people. UNHCR has repeatedly asked the government to provide an alternative site for the refugees displaced in Abidjan to ease their plight and to cut the high rental cost. So far, the government has not responded. UNHCR is presently housing 1,050 displaced refugees in seven centres around Abidjan.

Today, 26 Sierra Leoneans from Abidjan are scheduled to be flown to Freetown by commercial flight. They are part of a group of about 50 Sierra Leoneans who were made homeless by the razing of shantytowns in Abidjan, following the Sept. 19 attempted coup. The country hosts another 500 Sierra Leonean refugees who are still living in the refugee hosting area, near the border with Liberia.

UNHCR's office in Liberia is reporting that the number of Liberians returning from Côte d'Ivoire has increased since the beginning of the instability there. The Liberian immigration authorities reported that close to 7,000 persons have recently crossed the border into Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties in the east of Liberia. Among the arrivals are also about 40 Ivorians, 130 Ghanaians, one Burkinabe and one Malian. While the majority of those arriving are moving on to destinations in villages and towns, there are presently over 1,100 who are not able to return to their places of origin due to Liberia's own war and who are beginning to congregate in local school buildings and other facilities. Although UNHCR had pulled out of that area following the end of the latest repatriation movement in March 2000, we are now trying to organise some assistance with trucks, temporary accommodation, water and sanitation and health care. We will re-establish a more permanent presence in the region next week, with the re-opening of our former office in Harper, Maryland County, and a small antenna office in Karnplay, Nimba County.