ACCRA, GHANA – June 20, 2011–
As the international community marks World Refugee Day
today, Christian humanitarian organization World Vision is concerned about the plight of more than 200,000 refugees from the Ivory Coast. Forced to flee from political violence in their home country, more than 16,000 refugees remain in neighboring Ghana, unwilling to return even after months of displacement.
World Vision sent a team in April to the border area of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where they assessed the needs of thousands of Ivorians who have fled their country.
“In a sense, the real problems are only beginning,” said Paul Sitnam, World Vision’s humanitarian and emergency affairs director for West Africa who led the team. “We’re worried that, as harvest season is disrupted, this could create food shortages for families in the region.”Through the Ghana Refugee Board, World Vision has provided 1,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets, blankets, plastic buckets, and cooking sets, as well as 100 cartons of soap and 1,200 jerry cans to the refugees.
There are two main reasons the refugees fear returning to their homes, Sitnam said. The first is that they may be sought out for attack by supporters of other dominant political parties, as well as a fear of general insecurity.
“There are still gangs and militias roaming about, and people don’t want to return home until they can be assured of their safety,” he said.
Secondly, Sitnam noted the uncertainty facing any refugees returning to the Ivory Coast. “What do they return home to?” he asked. “Their homes have been destroyed and their personal goods have been lost or stolen. There
needs to be a plan from the new government to provide them recompense or to help them rebuild.
To encourage people to return home, the new government and the international community must instill a sense of security and reconciliation in the country, as well as begin rehabilitation and reconstruction in earnest. World Vision is especially concerned about children who have fled and are facing a disruption to schooling
and a lack of access to proper healthcare, clean water and food.
To provide clean water
for refugees, World Vision has also facilitated the drilling of boreholes in the southern border of Mali and in the transit camps of Zegoua and Manankoro.About World VisionWorld Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor -- regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews