The tensions in Côte d’Ivoire continue to force people to flee from their homes adding to the thousands already displaced. The massive exodus has declined, but hundreds still cross the border to Liberia every day.
In Liberia, there is a persisting need to help Liberian communities tackle the many refugees arriving from Côte d’Ivoire. After five months of factional fighting between groups loyal to the former president Laurent Gbagbo and the internationally recognised winner of the election Alassane Ouattara, hundreds of thousands remain affected by the conflict.
"Our teams inside Côte d’Ivoire report about a massive need for humanitarian aid, which is now brought to light for a broader audience as more accounts of the situation there appear," says Ann Mary Olsen, head of the International Department in the Danish Refugee Council.
Moreover, despite recent developments in Côte d’Ivoire with Gbagbo arrested and now detained, a new influx of people seeking refugee in Southern Liberia is now taking place.
Refugees from Côte d’Ivoire continue to arrive to Southern Maryland County in Liberia, albeit in smaller numbers than previous weeks. The estimated refugee population in Maryland is now above 12,000. Here, a new refugee settlement is under construction, headed by the Danish Refugee Council.
The new groups of Ivorian refugees are initially received in centres as they cross the border to Liberia. Due to the scarcity of resources in local communities, these refugees are encouraged to stay in class rooms in an abandoned school that has been turned into an emergency shelter. However, the shelter is overcrowded with more than 4,600 refugees staying at the school compund intended for 1,500 persons.
The new camp for Ivorian refugees will be constructed to ensure protection and aid for the refugees arriving. Initially, the settlement will be able to host some 5,000 persons, and can be expanded to host up to 15,000 if need be. The settlement in Maryland County is expected to be ready shortly with the first refugees moving in during the coming weeks. The Danish Refugee Council is furthermore establishing improved transit shelters at the border for those arriving from Côte d’Ivoire.
A total of around 130,000 Ivorian people have sought refuge in Liberia in recent months. So far, the majority of the Ivorian refugees have been hosted by local communities in Nimba County in the north of Liberia. To help the communities cope with the massive influx, new refugee settlements have been established by the UNHCR in the past months. The needs for more refugee settlements bare witness to the disorderly and insecure environment characterising the situation in the conflict-ridden region.