EMERGENCY UPDATE: CÔTE D’LVOIRE & LIBERIA

The refugee crisis in Liberia remains desperate, despite a new President in Cote d’Ivoire large numbers of refugees are still crossing into Liberia. Joseph Mansaray from our Humanitarian team in West Africa, gave us this update:

The political situation is changing fast in Cote d’Ivoire [Ivory Coast]. The winner of last year’s Presidential election, Alassane Outtara, has taken power after the French military helped his troops to arrest the former President, Laurent Gbagbo, who had been refusing to leave office. Outtara is calling on people to put their differences behind them, and to forget about the idea of a division between “Ivorians” and so-called “foreigners”. He won the election and has the support of the international community. But it’s too early to tell whether he will be able to control his militias.

For the moment the refugees in Liberia are adopting a wait-and-see attitude while the situation calms down. Some still fear the prospect of retaliation between different political and tribal factions within their communities.

In villages like Glarlay, the situation remains desperate. Most of the refugees arrived there with almost nothing, and there are major shortages of food, water and basic supplies. We’re starting to build shelters to prevent overcrowding, and we’re distributing seeds so that local families can grow enough food to support the refugees. We’re also building latrines that will help to prevent the spread of disease.

Despite the change of President, no-one can predict what the future holds. But whatever happens, the refugees will not return home until the situation becomes clearer. That means that the crisis in Liberia is far from over. When the rainy season begins, it will be extremely difficult to deliver aid – so it’s vital that we keep doing everything we can to prevent a major humanitarian disaster.

The population of the Liberian village of Glarlay has doubled in the last few weeks (Photo: Antonio Cabral / CAFOD)

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