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» 08.03.2011 - Côte d'Ivoire war displaces half a million
» 01.03.2011 - Côte d'Ivoire fighting intensifies
» 11.02.2011 - Ivorian crisis displaces 82,000
» 27.11.2009 - Côte D'Ivoire migrant figures to drop
» 17.04.2008 - Côte d’Ivoire's "steady progress" hailed
» 28.11.2007 - Cote d'Ivoire polls date set
» 27.03.2007 - Ivorian adolescents tricked by football agent
» 12.01.2005 - Liberian refugees returning from Côte d'Ivoire

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Côte d'Ivoire | Liberia
Society | Politics

Refugees returning to Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia

afrol News, 30 November - Ivorians are gradually going home from their short refuge in Liberia after the situation in Côte d'Ivoire is getting calmer. This has facilitated a resumption of the repatriation of thousands of Liberian refugees from throughout the region.

Ivorian refugees sheltering in neighbouring Liberia are gradually making their way back to Côte d'Ivoire as they feel the situation is calmer, the UN's refugee agency UNHCR today informed. Registration of new arrivals from Côte d'Ivoire stopped already last week.

More than 10,000 Ivorian arrivals had been registered in Nimba County, in north-eastern Liberia, since the start of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire on 6 November. "However, at the moment we do not have figures for those returning home as the refugees were dispersed over a wide area and frequently staying with local families," said UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis at a press conference in Geneva today.

Meanwhile, UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) agreed this week to start food distribution to refugees in the Liberian village Butuo and 21 other locations along the border.

- The lack of basic infrastructure is the biggest challenge facing UNHCR and its partner agencies, with helicopters needed to airlift relief items because of the poor state of the roads, said Ms Pagonis. UNHCR is working with local Liberian authorities and non-governmental organisations to rebuild roads, bridges and clinics.

The situation in Côte d'Ivoire is currently calm and UNHCR international staff have returned. The agency's staff was evacuated together with other UN personnel and foreigners earlier this month after militias close to the government of President Laurent Gbagbo attacked all Westerners in the country.

Included in the influx of refugees from Côte d'Ivoire to Liberia were about 1,000 Liberian refugees. There are some 70,000 Liberian refugees in Côte d'Ivoire, part of the 350,000 Liberians who fled their country's 14-year civil strife and took shelter in other African nations.

In October this year, UNHCR began a massive operation for the voluntary repatriation of Liberian refugees. As part of this ongoing programme, two flights are leaving Accra, Ghana today bringing home 222 Liberians, joining another 219 which returned on flights yesterday.

- There will be four more airlifts from Ghana in the coming weeks. In the past two months, more than 2,500 Liberians have repatriated with UNHCR assistance, Ms Pagonis said today.

The UN agency's repatriation programme of Liberian refugees had been threatened by the sudden massive influx of Ivorians in the still war-ravaged country. Large-scale reconstruction efforts have yet to start in Liberia and UNHCR has had to limit the repatriation in line with the possibilities of receiving the returnees.

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