UN AGENCY ASSISTS LIBERIANS FLEEING TO CÔTE D'IVOIRE AS NEW FIGHTING ERUPTS
From: UN New York, June 03 2003 04:00PM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
Thousands of Liberians have fled a new round
of fighting in southern Liberia and arrived in neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire,
where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is now
working to alleviate the added pressure on local communities already
burdened by other refugees and the effects of their own country’s civil
In the past two days, more than 2,000 Liberians, mostly women and children,
have arrived at Tabou in western Côte d'Ivoire, paddling canoes 200 metres
across the roaring Cavaly River, UNHCR said.
The frightened refugees are arriving mainly at the Yeoli and Nero entry
points, bringing stories of heavy fighting between the Liberian Government
and rebel forces battling to control the region, despite the torrential
rainy season downpours hampering travel in the area.
“We’re in a race against the weather and the poor health condition of the
new arrivals,” said UNHCR’s acting representative in Abidjan, Panos
Moumtzis. “We’re very worried about the children should diarrhoeal outbreaks
The newly arrived Liberians further strain the infrastructure in Tabou,
which receives only an hour of electricity daily and suffers a serious
shortage of clean water, according to UNHCR, which is providing assistance
to communities willing to host the refugees.
The agency has dispatched shelter materials to the new arrivals, and
re-opened a transit centre intended for 700 people but currently sheltering
more than 2,500. UNHCR is also working to identify more villages willing to
accept the fleeing Liberians. Few non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are
established in the region, complicating the relief operation.
Altogether, an estimated 15,000 Liberians have arrived in the Tabou area in
the last 10 to 15 days more than the 12,000 Ivorians who populate the town.