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Togolese Refugees Flood Into Benin


New York, Apr 29 2005 11:00AM

Nearly 6,000 Togolese fleeing post-election violence have arrived in neighbouring Benin, an increase of some 2,000 overnight, and 600 have crossed into Ghana, as the United Nations refugee agency today appealed to Togolese politicians to solve the crisis peacefully and avoid a humanitarian emergency.

The results of the elections on Sunday gave rise to violent disputes, which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also deplored.

A total of 5,754 Togolese fled to Benin, with 750 of them in Come camp, 80 kilometres outside the capital Cotonou.

Lokassa camp was prepared to receive 1,000 refugees today and another 600 people were either on church grounds or staying with their extended families, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at a briefing in Geneva.

The refugees in Ghana brought food for several days. Other refugees were being given hot meals by a UNHCR partner agency, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Caritas, it said.

A convoy of trucks being loaded in Ghana’s capital, Accra, was expanded to 10 from four and was scheduled to take non-food supplies – blankets, tents, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and kitchen sets – on a three-day, 1,600-kilometre trip through neighbouring Burkina Faso to Benin, UNHCR said.

If security improved, however, the convoy would go through Togo, since the country’s road borders, closed since last Friday, had been re-opened on Thursday, it said.

A three-member UNHCR team was scheduled to arrive in Benin over the weekend and a second team was on stand-by, it said.

UNHCR noted that it had worked on a contingency plan for the situation since February and had sent two emergency officers to Benin and Ghana earlier this month.

2005-04-29 00:00:00.000

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