Since the month of December, the inhabitants of the Toulepleu and Blolequin regions (west Ivory Coast) have fled in several waves after a series of attacks and counter-attacks by the different fighting forces.
Weeks on the road to get to the Liberian camps
Their villages have been burned, their resources pillaged, and they have spent weeks in the forests trying to escape the conflicts. These populations have survived in extremely difficult conditions, with neither shelter nor health care, and with only the food and water they could find in the forest. Repeatedly forced to flee with the advance of the fighting, reports are that they have been subjected to numerous exactions, summary executions, rapes, racketeering, mutilations and forced recruitment along the way. These populations continue to flow into the camps in Toe Town and Zwedru. A nutritional screening recently carried out by Action Against Hunger in the camps has revealed alarming results. Amongst the 296 children under 5 years of age that were screened, our teams found 73 cases of severe malnutrition.
The camps are too near the border and exposed to insecurity
The location of these two camps poses a serious problem as they are too close to the border. They are also extremely limited in terms of the numbers of people they can receive. The camps thus expose the refugees to the encroaching conflict of the Ivory Coast crisis, harassment and exactions by the different combatants.
Non-Ivory Coast populations without protection.
According to UNHCR, more than 90,000 people have found refuge in eastern Liberia since the beginning of the crisis in Ivory Coast. 12,000 of these refugees, mainly from Burkina Faso but also from Mali, Guinea and Ghana, are trapped in a country where it is impossible to integrate. Considered as economic migrants, and not as refugees, these populations do not have the protection of UNHCR. Furthermore, they cannot return to their countries of origin as the border with Guinea is closed.
Action Against Hunger is calling on the international community to:
- Bring a global response to the needs
of the populations fleeing the Ivory Coast particularly by setting up refugee
camps away from the borders
- Establish an appropriate strategy of assistance and protection to non Ivory Coast refugees in Liberia.