Ivorian exodus spreads in West Africa as crisis deepens
Heavy fighting has erupted in parts of Western Côte d'Ivoire, trapping thousands of displaced people according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The fighting between forces loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and those supporting the internationally recognized President Alassane Ouatarra is taking place in the western town of Duékoué. Many of the people living there were forced into an overcrowded catholic mission with little or no access to proper shelter and food.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR says fresh fighting has also been taking place in the east close to the border with Ghana, leading to further displacement. Melissa Fleming with UNHCR says the borders with neighboring countries, including Liberia, need to remain open so people fleeing the violence can leave.
“We continue to advocate that both forces protect civilians from harm and also if people are in need to flee they should be able to flee unharmed, we want to have this fighting stopped. We would condemn any move to shut down a border where the Liberian side has been open to receiving people fleeing the fighting in Côte d’Ivoire.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it expects the number of Ivorian refugees in Liberia to reach 150,000.