UN agency reports thousands of Ivory Coast refugees fleeing to Liberia

[JURIST] The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) [official website] on Saturday expressed concern [press release] over the humanitarian needs of nearly 14,000 Ivory Coast refugees who have fled to Liberia over the past month due to political instability and post-election violence [JURIST news archive]. The UNHCR warned that food supplies and available housing are running short and that an increasing number of refugees are arriving malnourished and are being exposed to various infections and diseases. The UNHCR says that it has already provided supplies for nearly 30,000 refugees, but is asking for more assistance for the growing number of Ivory Coast refugees who continue to cross the border into Liberia every day. The post-election violence has already resulted in more than 170 deaths [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast.

During the post-election violence in the Ivory Coast hundreds have been arrested and dozens have been subjected to torture, ill treatment and forced disappearances. Alassane Ouattara defeated incumbent Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profiles] in a November 28 runoff election, but Gbagbo has refused to concede victory, and his supporters have been engaging in a campaign of violence and intimidation [WP report]. Last week, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) [official website] urged [JURIST report] Gbagbo to step down, threatening the use of force if he attempts to maintain power. Also last week, the UN Human Rights Council [official website] adopted a resolution [JURIST report] condemning recent post-election violence while Ouattara's prime minister Guillaume Soro [BBC profile] called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to launch an investigation [DPA report] into possible crimes being committed by Gbagbo's supporters.

 

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