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World Refugee Day 2003: Côte d'Ivoire

World Refugee Day 2003: Côte d'Ivoire

20 June 2003

Refugee children from Abidjan's transit centres with Tonton Bouba the Clown on the children's programme, "Ahouaney". © UNHCR/A.van Genderen Stort

On June 20, an offical ceremony was held in Hotel Ivoire in the presence of the Ivorian First Lady and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Refugee children sang a song and gave a speech on behalf of the refugee children in Abidjan. Ismael Isaac, the famous artist, sang his song, "Réfugié Djidja", specially created for UNHCR.

The ceremony was followed by an exhibition with 30 photos on UNHCR's work in Côte d'Ivoire and the region, mainly focusing on refugee children.

Refugee children from transit centres all over Abidjan were invited by Côte d'Ivoire's greatest "animateur" clown, Tonton Bouba, to participate in a children's programme, "Ahouaney", which was broadcast on TV to more than 4 million people in the country. During the show, an anonymous donor gave rice, oil, soap and other domestic items to the refugee centres.

At the same time, 1,500 refugees and displaced Ivorians from various centres in Abidjan participated in "Special Tempo", a famous programme in Côte d'Ivoire. Sixteen well-known artists from Côte d'Ivoire d'Ivoire (including Ismale Isaac) sang to the refugees in the two-hour-long show, which was on TV.

Four prominent Ivorian personalities - the Imam Koudouss (leader of the Muslim community), the Cardinal Agré (one of the highest-ranking personalities in the Catholic Church), Adrienne Koutouan (a well-known comedian) and François Amicha (mayor of Treichville, a district in Abidjan) appeared on TV in pre-taped messages of tolerance.