afrol News, 31 January - Only last week, over 2,100 Guinean, Malian and Ivorian refugees had arrived from Côte d'Ivoire in Nzérékoré region (Guinea). The poor West African country thus presently hosts at least 100,000 regional refugees, most of them Liberians and Sierra Leoneans.
In addition to the new arrivals to Nzérékoré - Guinea's southernmost city - an estimated 600 Malian, Mauritanian and Nigerian refugees fleeing Côte d'Ivoire through Liberia "are stranded by the border in Guinea's Yomou prefecture with no protection and just some very basic humanitarian assistance," the World Food Programme (WFP) today reported.
According to reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today, local Guinean authorities had stated their "inability to finance" onward travels for the group of refugees stranded at the border.
People fleeing Côte d'Ivoire were also continuing to arrive in the eastern Kankan region of Guinea, close to the Ivorian and Malian border. As of 27 January, 640 people, mostly Guineans, had arrived in the region since late September, the latest WFP figures showed.
- The actual number of Ivorians having arrived in Guinea remains higher, but many have chosen to stay with family along the border or transit via Conakry to Abidjan or elsewhere, OCHA added. "The Guinean Red Cross has registered 10,779 Ivorians at entry points along the border in the period since end-September."
Guinea faces severe difficulties in accommodating this new influx of refugees. Camps and transit centres in Nzérékoré were reported to remain overcrowded. Therefore, during the second half of January, 330 Ivorian refugees had been transferred from the south-eastern Lola Prefecture to Nonah transit camp and 800 Liberians from Lola to Lainé camp.
Before the Ivorian armed conflict, according to OCHA, Guinea hosted some 92,536 refugees, of whom about 55 percent were Liberian and around 45 percent Sierra Leonean. Most had chosen to reside in refugee camps, while a significant number stayed in host communities in the south-eastern region of Guinée Forestière. The total number of refugees living in Guinea by now thus should have reached 100,000.
The Guinean government is however assisted by the international community in taking care of the large number of refugees. During the last two week, 55,900 persons had been targeted with 900 tons of WFP food, the UN agency reports. WFP was coordinating with local authorities on the registration and management of refugees and is conducting weekly missions to compile information on the ongoing influx.
However, "pipeline breaks in cereals and pulses expected by June will make the distribution of a full ration to some 100,000 refugees impossible," WFP warns. "Unless new contributions are confirmed and commodities reach Guinea by April, WFP will be forced to reduce the basic food ration to less than 1500 Kcal as of April."