- Title: LIBERIA: Thousands of Ivorian refugees arrive in Liberia
- Date: 17th March 2011
- Summary: VARIOUS OF LIBERIAN SECURITY FORCES VEHICLES PATROLLING BORDER POST
- Embargoed: 1st April 2011 13:00
- Location: Liberia, Liberia
- Country: Liberia
- Topics: War / Fighting,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA63AO9J665AZ9YVQEOY85ULBKM
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of Ivorians are fleeing the conflict in Ivory Coast, crossing into neighbouring Liberia.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, some 75,000 Ivorian refugees have been registered so far in Liberia, with half of them having arrived in the last two weeks.
Toe Town, close to the Ivory Coast border, has been inundated with refugees, and aid agencies are struggling to cope.
"As soon as the place [land] is given and [we] receive the [Liberian] government's okay, we will start to construct a [refugee] camp and to remove everyone [the refugees] from here [Toe Town Transit Camp]," said Augustine Nugba, who is the programme coordinator for Caritas-Liberia.
Cases of diarrhoea and malaria, as well as food shortages have already been recorded in eastern Liberia according to a UNHCR spokesman said.
"Since we came [to Liberia] our children and the elderly are getting sick and are taken to the hospital," said Ivorian refugee Tohogninon Victorine.
"We are given water and food, but the food, bulgur wheat is not good for us. We are not accustomed to eating such food and we are now experiencing running stomach," she added.
An estimated 450,000 people have been uprooted from their homes in Ivory Coast, with some 300,000 from the economic capital, Abidjan where there has been fighting between rival forces in the Abobo district.
Fighting began when incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after November elections, when U.N.-certified results showed Alassane Ouattara to be the winner.
"Whoever the people want, that's the person who should lead us. No one can say, 'I will get rid of everyone.' Is it the goats, chickens and cattle that such a person will lead?" said Ivorian refugee Charles-Camille Kpehia.
The border between Ivory Coast and Liberia is porous near Toe Town, the Cestos river providing the frontier between Liberia and Ivory Coast.
Liberian security forces said that rebels supporting Ouattara have captured most of the towns and villages along the Liberian border, locations that were believed to be former strongholds for Gbagbo.
At scattered border posts, relations between Liberian security forces and Ivorian militias supporting Ouattara are calm, despite rumours that Liberian mercenaries are being brought in to fight for both parties.
"We do not have problem with Liberians or any person. No! It is between Ivorian and Ivorian. Salamalaykum," said one rebel commander calling himself General Alpha at the border crossing between the two countries to Liberian security forces.
The African Union (AU) on Sunday (March 13) confirmed its recognition of Ouattara as Ivory Coast's president-elect.
Efforts by the AU to mediate Ivory Coast's leadership dispute failed last week, adding to fears of a return to civil war in the world's top cocoa producer.
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