- An evacuation road convoy is scheduled to leave Côte d'Ivoire's south-western town of Tabou today carrying 431 mainly Burkina Faso nationals. The convoy, heading for Ouagadougou, rescued Burkinabe plantation workers caught in Ivorian and Liberian military operations.
The six-bus convoy, which was previously postponed due to a damaged bridge between Grand Berebi and San Pedro, will overnight in Aboisso in eastern Côte d'Ivoire and in Tamale, in central Ghana, before crossing into Burkina Faso. The convoy is organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
In Tabou, IOM staff had provided registration, medical screening and pre-embarkation assistance. The World Food Programme (WFP) provided daily rations and UNICEF provided supplementary food for infants for the journey. Security is being provided by Ivorian military.
The returnees, mostly families who fled fighting in Eastern Liberia or who were employed on cocoa and coffee plantations in western Côte d'Ivoire, are expected to arrive in Ouagadougou on Thursday. In Ouagadougou, IOM says it is to arrange onward transport for nine Malians and nine Niger nationals travelling with group.
A second IOM evacuation of 237 Ghanaians and 11 Nigerians by boat from Tabou is expected to take place next week. IOM is also hoping to evacuate 528 Guineans, 15 Sierra Leoneans, 5 Senegalese and one Gambian by sea from Tabou in early July.
On Friday, another IOM road convoy will evacuate 500 more Burkinabe nationals from Duekoué, 150 miles north of Tabou. In Duekoué, IOM has registered 681 third country nationals most of whom are currently sheltering in the town's Catholic Mission.
Friday's convoy, comprising 7 buses, one luggage truck and two light vehicles will cross the Ghanaian border at Takikro on Friday and arrive in Ouagadougou on Sunday. As with the Tabou convoy, it will be escorted by IOM operations and medical staff, the organisation says.
The Duekué convoy will set stage for the evacuation of a further 8,500 Burkinabe nationals from nearby Guiglo over the next two months. Registration of the caseload began yesterday and IOM expects to organise two convoys a week through July and August. Some 800 people registered yesterday.
- Some of those registered were farmers from Burkina Faso who had settled on plantations in the region of Grabo, further inland, IOM Chief of Mission Denis Gravel said recently.
- Tensions between migrant workers and host communities have reportedly been running high for some time now, he added. "They were further exacerbated by the recent arrival of some 15,000 Liberian refugees and third country nationals who fled fighting in Eastern Liberia."
IOM's programme to help third country nationals to return home is funded by Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and the US, and is in close cooperation with UN agencies and NGOs, according to an IOM statement released today.
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