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30 000 Ivorian, Liberian refugees go home

2012-02-28 22:30

Geneva - About 30 000 Ivorian and Liberian refugees are being repatriated after the end of civil conflicts in the two west African countries, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

The Ivorians fled to neighbouring Liberia following Ivory Coast's civil unrest in April 2011, which led to the ousting of president Laurent Gbagbo, while the Liberians are long-term refugees from back-to-back conflicts between 1989 and 2003.

The operation is taking place in co-operation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), IOM spokesperson Jumbe Omari Jumbe told a news briefing.

"A total of 15 000 Ivorian refugees and 15 000 Liberian refugees will be assisted to return to their respective countries by the end of the operation," Jumbe said.

The IOM said there are an estimated 79 000 Ivorian refugees still living in Liberia and up to 24 000 Liberian refugees in Ivory Coast.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has given financial aid for the repatriation and the UN World Food Programme has provided food for one month.

At the height of the Ivory Coast crisis last year, more than 200 000 refugees fled to neighbouring countries such as Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Most of them have now returned.