The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has commended Liberia for the support it has offered to refugees of the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire:
“We face the risk of a possible massive displacement of Ivorians. Given these circumstances, I commend Liberia for its open-border policy and the Liberian people who have so generously opened their homes and shared their scarce resources.”
In her Annual Address delivered to the National Legislature on Monday, January 24, 2011, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said of Côte d’Ivoire:
“The political impasse continues despite efforts by the African Union, ECOWAS and the international community to find a peaceful resolution. Liberia remains the most vulnerable, as evidenced by the more than 32,000 persons that have already crossed into our borders for protection as refugees.
“They have taken refuge in 23 villages scattered along the border. These villages are now overcrowded. Our citizens have been sharing their rice and other produce recently harvested, but they are overwhelmed. So camps are being built to hold the many thousands of our Ivorian brothers and sisters.
“I want to reassure the Liberian people that we will not let this sad situation threaten our peace. We will work with regional and international partners to find a solution. We say a big thank you to our bilateral and international partners, including the United States and Libya, the World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Norwegian Refugee Council, that are providing critical humanitarian assistance to our Ivorian brothers and sisters in distress.
“We also say a big thank you to the Liberians in the east of the country – in Nimba and Grand Gedeh – who are showing kind hospitality to our Ivorian brothers and sisters. You are showing Liberia in the best light.”
Liberia is recovering from a 1999-2003 civil war and has just regained control of its armed forces from the United States. Stability has returned but is vulnerable to the impact of the 35,000 fleeing Ivorians who were registered in the country by the UN.
An equal number of internally displaced persons in Western Côte d’Ivoire are in desperate need of shelter. Earlier this week, a plane chartered by the UN refugee agency, flew from the city of Liège in Belgium carrying 2,450 tents from the agency’s emergency stockpile in Copenhagen and a convoy of trucks will transport 93 tons of relief aid from Accra, the capital of Ghana, to Abidjan, the Ivorian commercial capital.