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Côte d'Ivoire: new Liberian refugee transfer begins

Briefing notes

Côte d'Ivoire: new Liberian refugee transfer begins

7 August 2001

UNHCR in Côte d'Ivoire has begun transferring new Liberian refugees to a refugee camp near Guiglo in the west of the country. A total of 428 Liberian refugees were taken to Nicla refugee camp in five convoys over the past two weeks. The first convoy also included 19 Sierra Leoneans who fled Guinea to Côte d'Ivoire after the first attacks on the Guinean border last year. More convoys will be set up for the remaining 1,200 Liberians who are candidates for transfer, out of the 4,563 who have recently arrived in Côte d'Ivoire.

The new wave of arrivals in Côte d'Ivoire began in May when fighting resumed in Liberia's northern counties. Many have come from the Lofa and neighbouring Bong Counties, where fighting has been the most intense. Small numbers originated from the capital Monrovia or had passed through Monrovia before reaching Côte d'Ivoire. Apart from the fighting itself, many reported forced conscription and police intimidation as a reason for fleeing.

New arrivals have spontaneously settled in the Danané and Guiglo areas in Western Côte d'Ivoire. Many of them however belong to the Kpellé tribe, and they prefer to remain in villages rather than go to the Nicla camp which they would have to share with some 4,000 Liberians who have been in Côte d'Ivoire for several years and who mainly belong to the rival Krahn ethnic group.

In Nicla the refugees are given a plot of land, construction material, kitchen sets, mats and blankets and receive food for a year. UNHCR is also supporting community projects such as breeding and soap manufacturing with a view to gradually helping refugees become self-sufficient.

In Guinea, UNHCR on Monday started to relocate Liberians away from the border area to the revamped camp at Kola, 100 km north of the border. Close to 5,000 refugees have so far registered for transfer to Kola. The new camp can hold up to 6,000 people, and UNHCR is looking at additional sites to accommodate an additional 14,000 potential candidates for transfer from the Nzérékoré and Macenta areas.