Ivorian refugees fleeing violence. Photo: Daniel Breneman/Tearfund
18 May 2011
Fear of reprisals is stopping refugees of Ivory Coast’s crisis from returning home, Tearfund partners report.
Although violence has subsided since Alassane Ouattara took over power from deposed president Laurent Gbagbo, few Ivorians feel it is safe enough to leave neighbouring Liberia and other countries.
Looting of agricultural essentials and the widespread destruction of homes and livelihoods has added to the reluctance of people to go back to their communities.
For those in rural areas who have lost seeds and tools, the consequences are likely to be future food shortages.
Liberia has seen 160,000 Ivorians come across the border since the political crisis following disputed elections last November. The majority settle with Liberian communities rather than in camps, with Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties seeing the biggest influx.
Signs of normality
Tearfund partner Equip is continuing to provide medical help for refugees and Liberian families who have been hosting them.
But humanitarian needs are growing in Grand Gedeh where there are fewer aid agencies operating, as more refugees arrive, many telling of being burnt out of their homes.
Meanwhile in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, the scene of fierce fighting, life is returning to some sort of normality as banks and shops reopen and government workers resume their duties.
Tearfund partners there are looking to resume their activities after disruptions due to insecurity, although there is still unrest in some northern districts.
Some, such as Scripture Union, have had hundreds of displaced people staying in their compounds and have been providing for their food, clothing and psycho-social needs.
Another partner, MAP, has regained access to the western city of Duekoue, which also experienced considerable bloodshed and where there are tens of thousands of displaced people.
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