Clock is ticking for refugees fleeing Ivory Coast

More than 100,000 people have already crossed the border from Ivory Coast into Liberia and are now living in dire conditions in border villages, aid agency Oxfam has warned. Unless more is done to get people to safe and serviced areas further inland, they risk being cut off as the rainy season approaches.

April 4, 2011

“People have fled violence and are now living with families in Liberia in remote jungle areas along the border,” said Oxfam spokesperson Caroline Gluck from Liberia. “When the rains come, we will not be able to reach them with aid because the whole area will become inaccessible. The clock is ticking to get people to safe and reachable areas.”


As the situation in Ivory Coast changes daily, where political turmoil has led to thousands of people fleeing their homes and villages. More and more people are crossing the borders of neighbouring countries in search of help. Oxfam warns that the potential influx of refugees could make the humanitarian situation in Liberia -- already fragile from its own post-war recovery -- much worse.

The rainy season, which is starting now, will make roads to remote villages along the border impassable.

“People are walking four or five days before crossing a river to reach safety,” Gluck said. “Fathers are carrying their young children on their backs through deep forest and surviving on raw vegetables.

“Some are sleeping 35 people to a room, forced to spend nights sitting up when it rains. There is a severe lack of food, shelter and medical care.

“Most people have fled their homes after armed men stormed their village. Communities in Liberia are generously supporting thousands of people but they don’t have the supplies to provide help any longer. Much more needs to be done to help people who have fled violence and are now stranded with very little.”

Oxfam is providing clean water to refugees in Liberia and will help families hosting refugees to restock diminished food supplies.

For the latest on what Oxfam is doing at the border, click here to follow Caroline on Ipadio.

From more information contact:
Charles Bambara, Dakar: + 221 77 639 41 78
Olivier Germain, Monrovia: +23177916323
Karen Palmer, Canada:; 613-240-3047

 Notes to editors:
1. UNHCR has registered 73,000 refugees in Liberia between February and March 2011, in addition to 37,000 Ivorian refugees registered prior to February. This is in addition to some one million people displaced in Abidjan. On 28 March, Unicef announced that more than 100,000 refugees from Ivory Coast have crossed into Liberia.
2. The UN has asked for $146.5 million dollars to cope with the refugee crisis, but only a quarter has been made available so far.

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