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Friday, March 25, 2011

Côte d'Ivoire Mess Creating a Million Refugees

Reports out of western Africa suggest that a million people (out of a country population of about 22 million) may have fled Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in anticipation of a full-scale civil war over the issue of presidential succession. Ironically, this election was supposed to have solidified the country, which has been divided since the end of a previous civil war in 2002. Alassne Quattara is generally acknowledged to have won last year's election, but Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down from the presidency, creating a genuine mess.

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Guiglo is in a lawless zone, there is no functioning police, everyone does what they want”
Jacques FranquinUNHCR
"The massive displacement in Abidjan and elsewhere is being fuelled by fears of all-out war," said UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming at the agency's headquarters in Geneva.
She pointed out that the estimate of up to a million displaced was double the figure from just a week ago.
As was true in Libya, refugees seem to be disproportionately workers from other countries, who are trying to get back home and out of harm's way. Libya has oil to attract workers, whereas Côte d'Ivoire is the world's biggest producer of cocoa.

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