Food crisis for Liberia's Ivorian refugees

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iol news pic Ivorian refugees Liberia AP Refugees from Ivory Coast wait to hear their names called during a food distribution in the village of Janzon, near Zwedrou, Liberia. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Monrovia - The United Nations refugee agency in Liberia said on Tuesday that thousands of Ivorians sheltered in the west African nation were desperate for food with supplies expected to run out within three months.

“The main need of the refugees today is the food. The World Food Programme is going through some difficulties, so I am calling on the international community to help,” Khassim Diagne, the representative in Liberia of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told AFP in Monrovia.

“According to the WFP there is some provision for three months and after that the situation will be complicated,” Diagne said.

Liberia took in around 100 000 Ivorian refugees who fled fighting in Ivory Coast that led in April 2011 to the ousting of president Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to accept defeat at the polls by current leader Alassane Ouattara.

The UNHCR and the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission have been organising the voluntary return of tens of thousands of people, but around 52 000 remain, mostly in camps.

The UNHCR took 20 representatives of countries and organisations in Liberia to witness living conditions at refugee camps on the border with Ivory Coast on Saturday.

“We organised this mission to give the opportunity to the ambassadors to see how their donations are being used and to interact with the refugees who clearly need more assistance,” Diagne said.


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