Côte d'Ivoire

Ivorian refugees complain over relief food basket

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By Peter Kahler, PANA Correspondent
Zwedru, Liberia (PANA) - The relief food basket being provided refugees from Cote d'Ivoire camped here seems not to please them as they have begun complaining to UN officials about the "quantity, quality and component" of the food ration.

The refugees complained to a UN assessment mission recently in Zwedru, provincial capital of Grand Gedeh County, some 300 miles south-east of Monrovia, that they had qualms with the bulgur wheat component of the food.

They said the bulgur was no appropriate replacement for their staple food, rice, and that some refugees have begun to experience diarrhoea and other stomach ailments from the bulgur wheat.

The food basket for the refugees comprise bulgur wheat, yellow split peas, vegetable oil, salt and corn-soya blend, according to World Food Programme officials here.

The refugees said the food ration was inadequate for the period for which it is served, and that it lacks animal protein like fish and meat to prepare sauce for their daily meals.

There are over 21,000 Ivorian refugees and nearly 3,000 third country nationals from several West African countries in camps in Liberia.

They are among some 61,000 persons who have crossed into Liberia since fighting erupted in Cote d'Ivoire last September.

Responding to the qualms of the refugees, UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator, Marc de Bernis, said the UN would take note of all their complaints, including that of the food situation.

"This is the whole essence of our assessment visit," he told a cheering refugee crowd in Zwedru.

Nevertheless, one WFP relief worker told PANA the UN normally distributes what it gets from donors that respond to appeals for food and non-food items to aid refugees and other victims of natural or man-made disasters.

Pan African News Agency
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