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UN Boosts Response Readiness for Côte D'ivoire Refugees

UN Agency Boosts Response Readiness for Côte D'ivoire Refugees

New York, Dec 21 2010 11:10AM

The United Nations refugee agency said today it is boosting its contingency plans for Côte d'Ivoire in light of the tense political standoff that has already resulted in more than 6,000 people fleeing the country into two neighbouring West African States.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it airlifted additional relief supplies to Liberia and Guinea from emergency stockpiles in Copenhagen at the weekend. Some 6,000 Ivorians have fled into eastern Liberia, while another 200 have arrived in Guinea.

“We currently stand ready to cope with the needs of up to 30,000 refugees,” said Adrian Edwards, UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva.

Most of the Ivorian refugees seeking protective shelter in Liberia and Guinea are women and children, and only a handful of them have reported actual beatings thus far, Mr. Edwards said.

UNHCR has deployed additional staff to Liberia’s Nimba County, which is hosting most of the refugees, to ensure greater border monitoring, proper registration of the incoming refugees and to distribute relief items.

“We have set up registration centres in 16 villages where we are also distributing blankets, jerry cans, sleeping mats, kerosene lamps, soap and plastic sheeting as we record refugee families,” Mr. Edwards said, adding that the Liberian Government has itself distributed 1.8 tons of rice and repaired pumps in some villages to improve the supply of clean water.

Côte d'Ivoire has been plunged into political uncertainty after the incumbent president refused to concede electoral defeat recently. The UN has endorsed the victory of opposition leader and President-elect, Alassane Ouattara, in the run-off presidential elections held on 28 November, despite Laurent Gbagbo’s claim to have won.

Clashes between demonstrators and Mr. Gbagbo’s military forces have led to numerous casualties with at least 50 people killed, 200 injured, 470 arbitrarily arrested and detained, and many disappearances, according to tentative UN estimates.

ENDS

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