DESPERATE LIBERIAN REFUGEES CONTINUE DEMONSTRATIONS AT UN
OFFICE IN CÔTE D'IVOIRE
From: UN New York, Feb 25 2003 6:00PM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
As they have for nearly two weeks
now, desperate Liberian refugees continued to demonstrate in front of
the offices of the United Nations refugee agency in Abidjan demanding to
be evacuated out of Côte d'Ivoire or moved to a safer location.
"Many of them have been living in dire conditions in makeshift transit
sites in Abidjan since the conflict erupted last September," a spokesman
for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
"http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home?page=news" (UNHCR) said in
Geneva today. "They have faced harassment by the local population, who
accuse them of siding with the rebels," said Kris Janowski.
To date, the agency has not succeeded in getting the Ivoirian Government
to identify a safer location for the Liberians. "We have also been
unsuccessful in trying to persuade neighbouring countries to provide
refuge," Mr. Janowski said, adding that while UNHCR has been unable to
resolve the problem of Liberians who cannot go back to their country,
repatriation of those willing to return to Liberia was continuing.
In the southwest part of Côte d'Ivoire, more refugees have recently come
forward asking for repatriation to Liberia. According to Mr. Janowski,
several said they were chased away from the plantations where they had
been employed and others alleged they were beaten and driven away by
their Ivoirian neighbours. Since 17 February, UNHCR has repatriated more
than 2,250 refugees from the Tabou area to Liberia. During the same
period, over 43,000 refugees have gone back on their own, despite
continued instability in Liberia itself.
Some 36,000 Ivoirian refugees have also fled to Liberia. While returning
Liberians head to their hometowns and villages deeper inside Liberia,
Ivoirians tend to stay in border areas, hoping to go back home as soon
as the fighting subsides. As a result, many Ivorians are now living in
villages among the Liberian population close to the border, lacking
adequate food and medical care. "Many refugees are malnourished, making
them more susceptible to malaria, meningitis and yellow fever," said Mr.