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Refugee Numbers Fleeing Togo Climb Over 16,500

Refugee Numbers Fleeing Togo Climb To More Than 16,500 – UN

The number of people fleeing insecurity in post-election Togo has risen to more than 16,500, some of them citing harassment by security forces, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

The numbers have continued to climb, as about 9,000 people have fled over Togo’s borders into Ghana and 7,500 into Benin after a week of violence sparked when election results were announced on 26 April, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

Some of the refugees told the UN agency they had been harassed by Togolese security forces. Those arriving with injuries received medical treatment at a church compound in Hilakondji, Benin’s main crossing point. There were already some 300 refugees staying on the church grounds, and UNHCR said it expected to help move them shortly to a new transit site being prepared at Grand Popo, which can offer better facilities.

“Until this weekend we had been mostly witnessing arrivals from Aneho, close to the Benin border. Now the new trend is arrivals from (the Togolese capital) Lomé and particularly from the neighbourhood of Be, in spite of the gradual return to calm in Lomé,” said Rafik Saidi, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for Togo, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Michel Gaude, UNHCR’s head of West African operations, said the agency was being cautious about the numbers in Ghana, because it seemed some of the refugees from Lomé were coming over the Aflao border crossing to stay the night in Ghana for safety, then returning to work in Lomé during the day.

UNHCR said that most of the refugees have indicated they hope to return to Togo in the coming days as the situation calms down. In the meantime, local non-governmental and church organizations were providing food and basic supplies to those most in need of assistance. Also, a 10-truck convoy loaded with non-food supplies for 5,000 people left UNHCR’s regional warehouse in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday bound for Benin.

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