UN says Ivorian refugees in Liberia to hit 100,000 by April

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Tuesday warned that refugees fleeing the political crisis in Cote d'Ivoire to neighbouring Liberia could top the 100,000 mark by the end of April.

"The resulting turmoil, much of it involving Laurent Gbagbo loyalist forces attacking civilians and UN convoys in Abidjan, as well as ethnic strife in the west of the country, has displaced tens of thousands of people, with 32,000 fleeing to Liberia as of the end of last week,'' it said in a statement.

It said that, "UN agencies have voiced concerns that if the current trends in refugee influx continue, by mid-February there could be as many as 50,000 refugees in Liberia and 100,000 by the end of April."

The statement said the UN agencies in the country had stressed the urgent need to repair roads due to the upcoming rainy season in April, which will restrict access to many of the 32 Liberian villages hosting refugees.

"Maintaining the ability to provide assistance before and during the rainy season will be a significant challenge for the humanitarian community if resources are not urgently provided,'' it noted.

"In the light of the increasing number of displaced persons and refugees, limited access to health care in several regions as well as the upcoming rainy season which will affect delivery,
humanitarian organizations urgently need funding,” it said.

PANA learnt the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Liberia National Red Cross Society are currently providing safe drinking water and sanitation services in several communities.

No fewer than 20,000 other Ivorians have been internally displaced in western Cote d’Ivoire, where UN officials have warned that ethnic tensions stemming from national, racial and religious affiliation linked to the opposing camps could lead to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

On 18 January, UN agencies and partners launched an US$ 87.7 million appeal for aid in Cote d’Ivoire and five neighbouring countries facing a potential major humanitarian crisis.
-0- PANA AA/BOS 1Feb2011

01 february 2011 19:24:53

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