Women and children seek refuge in Liberia as stalemate in Côte d'Ivoire continues

Ivorian refugees

Ivorian refugees

For over a month now, people from Côte d’Ivoire have been seeking refuge in neighbouring Liberia, victims of the uncertainty and post electoral tensions in their country.

The majority are women and children.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, is preparing food and supplies for up to 30,000 refugees.

UNHCR’s Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba is in Liberia . Gerry Adams asked her about the current situation.

Kaba: The situation on the ground right now is that people are coming. In many villages, they outnumber the local residents. The houses are congested. They are not staying in a camp at the moment. So they are spread out in 23 separate villages, which makes it difficult to deliver assistance and response. We are increasing the number of staff in order to be able to be able to reach every refugee village and at the same time to deliver aid.

Food is also running out in the villages where refugees are posted right now in eastern Liberia along the border with Côte d’Ivoire. The other problem they have been facing is lack of clean water. There is just not enough for the local residents and the refugees. I met a village chief in Lugwata, one of the border crossing points where we have over half of the Ivorian refugees right now. Out of desperation, because there was no more water to drink in his village, he decided to round up 11 people on Sunday and they dug a well and since Monday, they’ve been starting to drink from that water, although it’s not fit for consumption.
Now they are aware that it is not fit for consumption so they re boiling it. But these are some of the difficulties refugees and the local residents are facing.

Adams: What kind of further assistance is needed in addition to water?

Well, the health structures, for example there are some health clinics, there are a few health centers, but they don’t have enough medicine now that there are more refugees. Also, shelter is one of the pressing needs because they are living in houses, one on top of the other., entire families sharing one or two bedrooms and so they will need to have additional shelther. Sonme of the refugees have already started to expand, to build extensions of the houses that were generously given to them by the local residents. But still it is not enough with the influx continuing. We are starting to see many refugees sleeping outside or trying to find nearby villages from where they were received and given a house to see if they can find additional space.  That’s why we’ve been in talks with the Government to set up a new camp because it will make it easier both for the refugees and the local residents.

Duration: 2’34″

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December 2017
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