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A large majority of Ivorian refugees in neighboring countries will no longer benefit from this status, announced Tuesday, September 7, the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which estimates that “Many of them no longer need international protection”.
This decision, which the United Nations agency recommends application on June 30, 2022, comes after a two-day meeting in Abidjan between the Ivorian government and countries hosting large numbers of refugees, including neighboring Liberia.
“On the basis of an in-depth analysis of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, UNHCR believes that the circumstances in which many Ivorians fled their country as refugees have ceased to exist and that many of them no longer exist. ‘no longer need international protection’said Raouf Mazou, assistant high commissioner for UNHCR operations.
According to the UNHCR, since 2011, 287,000 Ivorian refugees have returned voluntarily to their country, or 92% of those who had left for neighboring countries.
However, some 51,000 people remain refugees and asylum seekers in the region, mainly in Ghana, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Togo.
“Those who still consider themselves in danger in the event of return can apply for an exemption procedure to remain under the protection of UNHCR”, specifies the UN agency in a press release.
According to the UNHCR, 60% of Ivorian refugees interviewed wish to return home and only 10% wish to stay in their host countries.
More than 300,000 Ivorians in particular fled their country during or after the violent post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011, triggered by Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to admit his defeat in the presidential election to Alassane Ouattara.
Their return is a major issue for national reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire.
By the end of 2020, more than 10,000 people had also fled Côte d’Ivoire to neighboring countries after violence linked to the election of President Ouattara for a controversial third term.