Liberian towns bordering the Ivory Coast are being crowded day after day with Ivoirians refugees who are leaving their homes to find a place where they could dwell safely until the brawl over who becomes the country’s next president is resolved.
Among the refugees who had being crossing since December 1, 2010 after the results of elections which became a controversy, with Alhassan Ouatarra and Laurent Gbagbo claiming the presidency, were Dami Arnaud Carlos,26, his wife Kpan Deundo Octavie, 20 and 6 months old son, Dami Trezer.
“Two days after the election in Ivory Coast I had to leave with my family because we were being treating with beating for being supporters of Gbagbo,” Carlos said.
He then recalled the difficulties he, his family and friends trekked through bushes to cross the border but said “I am glad to be in Liberia alive.”
Carlos and his family, like many other refugees who have crossed into Liberia recently live in the homes of kindhearted Liberians rather than camps.
Reports gathered from United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate that Ivoirians refugees are entering the Liberia at a minimum rate of at least 260 per day at all 18 entry points.
Latest statistics reports from the UNHCR have shown at least a little over 8,000 refugees have crossed into Liberia from the Ivory Coast between December 1 -20 2010.
These refugees whom number is gradually increasing in towns bordering Ivory Coast are being faced with an urgent need for food, clothing, sanitation and medical facilities.
“Since we moved into this place the people here have given my family and I a room to stay in but we do not have mattress, beddings or even cloth to keep us warm. My son have not being very well and I do not have money to buy him any medicine. There has being no medical aid here,” Carlos said.
Gomon Notia, 100, who provided shelter for Carlos and his family in Douplay said she and her family are trying their best to share what they have with the refugee family but does not know how long her family could keep providing for the strangers with their limited reserve.
Ivorian refugees are now accompanying their hosts to farms to be able to keep food the attic for some time. Such efforts will soon be futile when the rainy season sets in.
Aside from the problem of food, medicine and clothing some of the communities in which the refugees are occupying are faced with unsafe drinking water source which could give rise to outbreak of cholera and other diseases related to unsafe drinking water.
One such community is the kissiplay town situated about 30km from the border with Ivory Coast where Johanna Tuo, 21 was seen drawing chalk colored water from a pit.
“There is no source of good water here. We use this water for drinking, cooking and other things,” Tuo said.
Thought there is a hand pump in the township, Johanna said “when we try to get water from the pump, sometimes we get two buckets than the water will stop coming.”
The current population of Kissiplay is now put at about 3,500 persons including women, children and the refugees.
Many of the refugees who had crossed the border are expressing little hope of returning to the Ivory Coast until the scuffle over the country’s presidency is over.
Colibaly Mamadou, 47, a business man and father of four who fled his home, Danane, since the civil crisis that divided between the New Forces rebel movement and the Gbagbo Government in 2003 said his prayer is that the crisis in his country will be over some day when he will have a chance to go home.
“All my businesses in Danane got damaged during the first war that entered Ivory Coast. At least none of my children were killed, but I ran off from my businesses.”
“Since I left home in January of 2003, I have not returned. Though I have not forgotten all about my home, but I do not want to return now. I want my children to have a chance to go to school. I pray that one day the crisis will ceased so I can return,” he said.
It has being observed that several United Nations agencies in Liberia are responding to the situation by providing nonfood and sanitary items to the refugees.
Though many of the refugees who have crossed into Liberia and other neighboring countries look forward to the day that the situation in the country will calm down, reports in the media show no signs whether Alhassan Ouatarra or Laurent Gbagbo will let go of state power.
Recent reports about violence in several parts of Ivory Coast indicate that there could be a fresh outburst of civil in the country which would force tens of thousands Ivorian refugees into exhale. – Bill E. Diggs, Newsline