- More than 20,000 Togolese have now gone into exile, fleeing the post-election turmoil and intimidation by state security forces. Most have reached the neighbour countries Benin and Ghana, where government and UN agencies are working hard to provide the many refugees with basic needs.
With Togo yesterday confirming the election results that have sparked the recent unrest in the country, the UN's refugee agency UNHCR said more than 20,000 Togolese are now in exile, having fled the post-election turmoil. UNHCR today said that even though the flow of Togolese refugees seeking safe haven in neighbouring Benin and Ghana has not slowed, the situation inside Togo however seems "calm but uneasy."
The refugees are reporting systematic attacks on the Togolese opposition. "Refugees are continuing to cross the border and we are still hearing reports from some refugees that they have been roughed up by security forces," said UNHCR's head of West Africa operations, Michel Gaudé.
As of today, 9,979 refugees had been registered in Ghana, on Togo's western border, and 10,658 in Benin to the east. In both countries, refugees were crossing over at the major official border points and there were no reports of unofficial crossings being used. UNHCR was continuing to monitor the borders for new arrivals.
In Ghana and Benin, government agencies and UNHCR are working hard to provide the refugees with food and accommodation in camps or with friends. "Most of the refugees in Benin are living with family and friends, with UNHCR providing transport for new arrivals who wish to stay with relatives," the UN reported today.
UN agencies in Benin had decided to join efforts with the Beninese government to provide such refugee-hosting families with humanitarian assistance and to reinforce social infrastructure such as schools and health facilities to help them cope with the new arrivals.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) yesterday said 72 unaccompanied youngsters had been discovered among the Togolese refugees arriving in Benin. It was still unclear why they were unaccompanied, and where their families were, but the children were "physically and mentally in good shape," UNICEF spokesman Damien Personnaz said.
Meanwhile, a 10-truck convoy carrying relief materials for refugees reached Benin today. The supplies include tents, blankets, jerry cans, plastic sheeting and kitchen sets for 5,000 refugees, supplementing relief items already pre-positioned for 2,500 refugees.
In Ghana, the flow of refugees remained steady, although there was a small but sudden surge in arrivals reported at Aflao border point adjacent to the Togolese capital Lomé on Tuesday, as a result of neighbourhood searches by state security forces, refugees said.
Yesterday, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said it was concerned about events in Togo and was closely monitoring the situation there. "This political crisis could result in a humanitarian crisis, and the worst-case scenario is having a situation similar to that in Côte d'Ivoire," said Elizabeth Byrs.
- A protracted crisis in Togo could further weaken the fragile economic and social conditions in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger that had been already seriously hit by the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, she added. "It might also constitute a new opportunity for arms traffickers and mercenaries if the situation is not addressed in the most expeditious way," Ms Byrs feared.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.