Posted by: africanpressorganization | 15 March 2011

Mauritanian Migrants Fleeing Violence in Cote d’Ivoire Being Assisted Home by IOM





Mauritanian Migrants Fleeing Violence in Cote d’Ivoire Being Assisted Home by IOM



GENEVA, Switzerland, March 15, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Press Notes

IOM is preparing to evacuate more than 400 Mauritanian migrants back home by bus after receiving an urgent request from the Mauritanian Embassy for support.

With violence in Cote d’Ivoire having again escalated in the past few weeks, leading to an estimated 200,000 – 300,000 people being displaced in Abidjan alone, increasing numbers of migrants and Ivoirians are fleeing the country.

The Mauritanian Embassy in Abidjan has already evacuated nearly 1,800 Mauritanians by bus but still has several hundreds of its nationals camped out in insalubrious conditions in the embassy’s vicinity.

An estimated 40,000 Mauritanians are living and working in Cote d’Ivoire, 10,000 of whom are in Abidjan, according to the Mauritian Embassy in Abidjan

The vast majority of them either own or work in small business and are men without accompanying families. Mauritanian migrants say they feel particularly threatened and targeted and as a result, want to return home.

IOM, which is organizing the transport and logistics of the evacuation, will have staff in Mali and in Mauritania to support the convoy en route. The convoy will leave Abidjan on 16 March and will travel north through the capital Yamoussoukro and then onto Bouaké before crossing the Ivoirian Malian border in Pogo. The convoy is scheduled to arrive in the south-eastern Mauritanian town of Néma on Monday.   

WHO and WFP are also supporting the evacuation by providing fitness to travel checks before departure, yellow fever vaccinations and high energy biscuits for the migrants for the journey.
The evacuations come as IOM staff in Ghana report that while previously the country was only seeing a small trickle of Ivorian refugees crossing the border, increasing numbers are now arriving. About 100 Ivorian asylum-seekers crossed into Ghana overnight on 11-12th March.  There are now 440 Ivoirian asylum-seekers in Ghana, 34 Third Country Nationals and more than 6,000 Ghanaian migrants who have returned home.

An IOM team is based at Takoradi on the Ghanaian/Ivorian border from where it transports Ivorian asylum-seekers to refugee camps further inland as well as assist third country nationals who are fleeing into Ghana from Cote d’Ivoire.

Although IOM is providing assistance to Ivoirian refugees and internally displaced, returning migrants and third country nationals fleeing to any of Cote d’Ivoire’s neighbours, it is being severely hampered in its efforts by a severe lack of funds to respond.

“The crisis is a regional one. It is affecting at least 400,000 people and probably more. Those fleeing are leaving with very little and often arriving with nothing as they are robbed along the way. With no jobs or means of income and with families back home to support, their situation is desperate. There is so much to do and so much more that IOM can do if the resources were available. IOM is once again appealing to donors to not forget the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in this part of the world,” says IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing.

Out of an initial US$3.5 million appeal for the Cote d’Ivoire crisis in January to assist those displaced within and across its borders, IOM has still only received USD 700,000 funding pledge from the US State Department Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (PRM).

In Guinea, where more than 3,500 returning Guinean migrants and Ivorian refugees have arrived and more crossing on a daily basis, the situation is precarious for the displaced and host communities in the border towns of Sinko, Beyla and Foumbadou in the Forest region.

Most of the refugees and returning migrants don’t want to be taken to refugee camps or back to their home villages and are instead staying with host families in very difficult conditions in the three towns.   

There is an urgent need for the reinforcement and refurbishment of health care centres and primary schools in the towns which are currently in a deplorable condition, with local authorities requesting assistance from IOM in carrying out the work.

The Organization is also highlighting the need to provide livelihood support to at least 2,500 refugees and returning migrants who want to remain in the area. With the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire being a protracted one, such assistance is critical.


International Office of Migration (IOM)


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