Burkina Faso + 3 more

Cote d'Ivoire refugees - Eye witness accounts

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Christian Aid’s West Africa regional emergency manager, Cristina Ruiz, has just returned from a humanitarian visit to several Cote d’Ivoire (CDI) border locations, including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to assess the arrival of refuges and returnees from CDI. “We met a group of three young women with eleven children under the age of six who had crossed the border in south Burkina Faso. They were travelling from Albengougou at the Cote d’Ivoire border with Ghana and heading towards Dosso in Niger,” explains Ruiz.

“The families were travelling in a very crowded bus and had already spent two days to cross Ghana, while their husbands stayed behind to protect their field and properties in Cote d’Ivoire from looting. They said they felt fortunate to be able to pay for their transport and to get their children to relative safety.”

Ruiz says that The High Commissioner of Po in Burkina Faso informed her that some 30,000 people were said to be headed there from Cote d’Ivoire but they never arrived, and that thousands more are stranded without any possibility of leaving Cote d’Ivoire at present.

Ruiz and her team also found that 9,000 CDI returnees and refugees have crossed into Burkina through Ghana since January 2011.

They also spoke to Malian refugees who report of a very difficult situation in CDI including killings and major human rights abuses, and in Niger they were informed that 5 - 6 packed buses of CDI refugees per day at the Djelwongo crossing point.

“Assistance for CDI returnees in Niger is made more difficult with more than 21,000 Libyans fleeing to the country already, which itself is attempting to recover from the recent food crisis,” Ruiz adds.

If you would like to interview Cristina Ruiz or our country manager in Mali please contact me on 0207 523 2427 or 07554 024539 or epomfret@christian-aid.org