Ivorian election sparks off regional refugee crisis


File photo for Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara during election period

from ALEXIS DOUMBIA in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
ABIDJAN, (CAJ News) THOUSANDS of civilians have fled Ivory Coast to neighbouring countries following violent presidential elections held last weekend.

At least a dozen people were killed and more injured after the country degenerated into chaos with the re-election of Alassane Ouattara for a third term.

His opponents cried foul play after the incumbent, aged 78, was declared winner with an overwhelming 94 percent.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed more than 3 200 Ivorian refugees had arrived in Ghana, Liberia and Togo.

The refugee agency lamented that most of the arrivals were women and children.

They are from Ivory Coast’s west and southwest regions.

“Many report fears of getting caught-up in the escalating violence,” Boris Cheshirkov, UNHCR spokesperson, said.

More than 2 600 refugees have arrived in Liberia, to the west.

Some 600 Ivorian refugees also arrived in Ghana, in the east while a few have sought refuge in Togo.

UNHCR thanked the governments of Ghana, Liberia and Togo for keeping their borders open to Ivorian refugees despite restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cheshirkov said they would continue working closely with governments and other partners in the region on contingency plans should refugee movements accelerate.

This is the worst violence linked to elections since 2011, when Ouatarra won the poll but Laurent Gbagbo refused to hand over power.

Gbagbo was disqualified from the recent poll, also triggering conflict.

Over 3 000 people were killed and 1,3 million others displaced inside and out of the country.

Violence had been projected for the latest poll after Ouatarra forced a third term, unlawful under the constitution but approved by the Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court.

– CAJ News









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