Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Aid workers rush to help Ivory Coast refugees flooding into Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia
Aid workers are rushing to accommodate the more than 22,000 refugees who have fled Ivory Coast for neighboring Liberia since a disputed election on Nov. 28 left the country on the brink of civil war.

Concerns about Ivory Coast election prompt unexpectedly strong foreign response Ivorians have been streaming across the Liberian border at a rate of roughly 500 per day since Dec. 1, according to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency that is leading the effort to build a camp to house them. Nearly two thirds of the registered refugees are under the age of 18.

For the past eight weeks, villagers in eastern Liberia have taken in the refugees, squeezing them into their homes and sharing their provisions. But with so many extra mouths to feed, supplies of food and water are running short, UNHCR spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said.

Liberia is located to the west of the Ivory Coast.

Where is the Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire)?

History of trhe Ivory Coast
The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, commonly known in English as Ivory Coast, is a country in West Africa. It has an area of 322,462 km2, and borders the countries of Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998, and was estimated to be 20,617,068 in 2009.

Prior to its colonization by Europeans, Côte d'Ivoire was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. There were two Anyi kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, which attempted to retain their separate identity through the French colonial period and after Côte d'Ivoire's independence. An 1843–1844 treaty made Côte d'Ivoire a "protectorate" of France and in 1893, it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa.

Côte d'Ivoire became independent on 7 August 1960. From 1960 to 1993, the country was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny. It maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbours, while at the same time maintaining close ties to the West, especially to France.

Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule, Côte d'Ivoire has experienced one coup d’état, in 1999, and a civil war, which broke out in 2002. A political agreement between the government and the rebels brought a return to peace. Côte d'Ivoire is a republic with a strong executive power invested in the President. Its de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the biggest city is the port city of Abidjan. The country is divided into 19 regions and 81 departments. It is a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, African Union, La Francophonie, Latin Union, Economic Community of West African States and South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone.

The official language is French, although many of the local languages are widely used, including Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo. The main religions are Islam, Christianity (primarily Roman Catholic) and various indigenous religions.

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