Up to one million people have been displaced
by the conflict in the Ivory Coast that began with an attempted coup on
September 19, 2002. The government of the Ivory Coast and the rebel forces,
who represent disenfranchised communities in the west and north of the
country, signed a peace agreement in France the last week in January, but
there is concern that it may not hold. Not only have hundreds of thousands
of Ivoirians been displaced by the conflict, but also it has affected the
lives of thousands of Liberian refugees and nationals from neighboring
countries who had found a safe haven and economic well being in this once
peaceful and thriving country. The conflict is complicated by a war in
neighboring Liberia - people are fleeing in many directions and the resources
of agencies operating in West Africa are being stretched.
A Refugees International team, consisting of Advocate Sayre Nyce and Mission Associate Shannon Meehan, will be in the region to identify the humanitarian assistance and protection needs of displaced people, focusing on Ivoirian refugees, Liberian refugees, and other nationals displaced by the conflict. The team will also travel to Guinea and Liberia to investigate the needs of returnees, as well as Liberians displaced by the fighting between government and rebel forces in Liberia.
For several years, RI has been advocating for increased protection and assistance for Liberian refugees in the region. Liberian refugees in Liberia, Guinea and western Ivory Coast are increasingly facing protection problems, including being recruited by military forces.
The RI team will be in the region for one month and return to Washington in early March.