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Côte d'Ivoire: France, Germany and Italy contribute, more needed

Briefing notes

Côte d'Ivoire: France, Germany and Italy contribute, more needed

20 December 2002

At least 48,000 people have now fled the strife-torn western region of Côte d'Ivoire for neighbouring Liberia. Most of them - about 32,000 - are Liberians who had once sought asylum in Côte d'Ivoire but who now decided to go back because of the fighting there. The group also includes 16,000 Ivorian nationals.

Most of those fleeing have sought refuge in the eastern counties of Liberia.

The number of people crossing the border each day has decreased to an average of 100-200 per day, compared to a peak of 2,000-3,000 per day in the week that followed the capture of Man and Danané by rebels on November 28. The daily figures represent only those crossing through official border points but the actual number of people may be larger, as many use unofficial crossings.

In Liberia, four transit centres are now providing basic services to those fleeing Côte d'Ivoire. UNHCR has assembled a fleet of 23 trucks that shuttles between the border areas and points inside the country, ferrying Liberian returnees back to their home areas, mostly Monrovia but also other towns in the interior. Over the past few days, the number of people transported home has dropped from 500 to between 100 and 200 a day, in another indication that the influx from Côte d'Ivoire has slowed down.

Relatively few Liberians, who originate from troubled areas within Liberia itself (Lofa county, for instance), are temporarily being sheltered in the transit centres, until a place can be found for them elsewhere in Liberia.

A consignment of 10 light vehicles, 25,000 blankets, one generator, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting was airlifted to Monrovia last Saturday, The supplies are destined to help those fleeing the Ivorian crisis for Liberia. Another shipment with blankets, plastic sheets and jerry cans, as well as plastic rolls, is expected to leave Copenhagen for Monrovia soon.

In November, UNHCR launched an urgent appeal for US$6.1 million to tackle the Côte d'Ivoire crisis (stockpiling and assistance to refugees and forced returnees in the region). So far, we have received contributions from France ($1.5 million), Germany ($247,800) and Italy ($180,000). Other donors, including Luxembourg and the United States, have indicated they may also contribute. Speedy contributions are key to UNHCR's ability to respond in a timely and efficient manner to this quickly developing crisis.