Washington, DC, January 24, 2003 - The United States is concerned about the humanitarian impact of the violence and instability in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia. The conflict in Cote d'Ivoire has forced at least 20,000 Ivoirians to seek refuge in neighboring countries and has prompted many of the 72,000 Liberian refugees there to return home or seek asylum in Guinea. In Liberia, intense fighting and attacks on civilians in the first half of last year produced outflows of nearly 70,000 new refugees into Guinea and Sierra Leone. More recent fighting has led to additional outflows.
On a more optimistic note, the United States is pleased that peace and stability in Sierra Leone and Angola have allowed for refugee repatriation. Nearly 210,000 Sierra Leonean refugees have returned home and another 70,000 are waiting to return. In Southern Africa, 400,000 Angolan refugees are awaiting return home. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees plans to begin organized repatriation there this year.
In response, the U.S. Government is providing $8.4 million in emergency refugee and migration assistance funds to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in support of these urgent needs as follows:
- $4.1 million for the return and reintegration of Angolan refugees
- $2.1 million to respond to the emergency needs of new Liberian refugees forced to flee to neighboring countries
- $1.5 million to respond to the needs of Ivoirians and Liberian refugees forced to flee the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire
- $700,000 for the return and reintegration of Sierra Leonean refugees
Earlier this month, the U.S. contributed $69 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in support of refugee programs worldwide. Of that amount, $30 million was allocated for refugee needs in Africa.
The United States believes that the protection and care of refugees and the pursuit of permanent solutions for refugee crises are shared international responsibilities and calls on other donors to strengthen their efforts as well in support of humanitarian assistance programs in West Africa and in Angola.
Office of the Spokesman