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Ivorian refugee influx threatens Liberia's new peace

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-03

The growing tide of refugees escaping the Ivorian civil war to neighbouring Liberia, estimated at 130,000 people, could destablise the country's newly found peace, security and stability, the UN has warned.

AFP - The conflict in Ivory Coast could destabilise neighbouring Liberia, a UN official warned, calling for more assistance for Monrovia to deal with an influx of refugees.

"After years of war, Liberians are finally seeing the benefits of investment in peace, security and stability.

"We need to maintain that course and ensure the country gets the help it needs even as it welcomes so many refugees from Cote d’Ivoire," UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said during a visit to eastern Liberia, the area bordering Ivory Coast.

About 130,000 people have in recent months fled to Liberia from Ivory Coast, where fierce battles were raging Saturday between forces loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, who has been internationally recognised as the winner of November elections.

Amos estimated Liberians' needs at $147 million of which only $35 million have been disbursed so far.

Liberia's 14-year civil war ended in 2003, leaving about 250,000 people dead and its government is fearful that armed Liberian mercenaries fighting in Ivory Coast, mainly for Gbagbo, could return.

Asked about massacres that reportedly left hundreds dead in Ivory Coast's western town of Duekoue, Amos said she had read a report.

"The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) saw a situation where more than 800 persons have been killed. I have not yet had confirmation of that, but if that is an accurate report, of course, we actually deplore the violence that has led to that."

She said it was "important that all parties to the conflict in Ivory Coast recognise that they have responsibility under international law to protect civilians.

"Innocent civilians should not be used in any conflict in this way and should not be victims of this kind of indiscriminate violence."

The ICRC said Friday that at least 800 people had been killed during fighting for control of Duekoue.

Catholic charity Caritas said Saturday that 1,000 people had been killed or "disappeared" in Duekoue, where mass graves were reportedly found after heavy fighting.

Date created : 2011-04-03


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