As was expected after the emergency of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) met in Nigeria last week on the crisis in the Ivory Coast, the three man Presidential delegation put together by ECOWAS during the emergency session arrived today in Ivory Coast and met with embattled President Laurent Gbagbo to
delivered the regional body message that steps down and leaves office without delay or be forced to do so if he choses the reverse.
According to Radio France International, the ECOWAS three-man Presidential delegation consist of the Presidents of Benin, Cape Verde, and Sierra Leone. The delegation did not speak tl the press after their meeting with the embattled President Gbagbo but the Benin Foreign Ministry told the media that the aim of their mission is to persuade the Ivorian leader to lave office” without delay”.
According to Fatoumata Lejeune- Kaba of the UNHCR in an interview with Radio France International, in the advent of the conflict that sparked as the result of the second-round of the contested election result, 20,000 Ivorian refugees have entered into Liberia for safety; majority of them are women and children living in makeshift camps in villages and food supply are running low. She said 15,120 refugees come from western Ivory Coast and the 4,000 who reportedly entered.
The UNHCR spokesperson said the refugees are mixed, some are Laurent Gbagbo’s and others are Alassasne Outtara’s supporters. The United Nation is not building camps for refugees on the request of the Liberian government, which committing to finding villages to host the refugees.
“They did say they would rather have the refugees living with local communities, because they have a non-encampment policy,” said Lejeune-Kaba, adding that this could be reasonable if the numbers remain manageable.
“If we reach the worst-case scenario – for example, civil war breaking out again – obviously there will be a need to change that policy”
And food is a problem. People are living off of supplies from villages, and the government has provided some rice, but not enough.
“We could run out of supplies rather shortly, which means we would have to bring in more aid from the region,” said Lejeune-Kaba.