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Thousands of Refugees Flee to Liberia in Wake of Ivory Coast Violence

 American Refugee Committee Building Emergency Shelters for Refugees

Minneapolis, March 2, 2011 — 

Increased fighting in Ivory Coast this past week has forced thousands of people from their homes.  An estimated 11,000 people crossed into Liberia last Thursday alone.  Current estimates indicate that more than 70,000 refugees are seeking safety in Liberia.

“Our team reports that conditions on the ground are very bad—many refugees have been living with Liberian host families in cramped rooms, with up to fifteen people in one room,” said Daniel Wordsworth, President of the American Refugee Committee.  “We’ve been constructing shelters to provide safety for refugee families.  But tensions are high—the Liberian host communities have been very gracious in sharing their limited resources, but it is clear that food, shelter, and other support are urgently needed. ”

Refugees began arriving in Liberia after widespread violence broke out in Ivory Coast following disputed November 2010 presidential elections. Ivory Coast’s president, Laurent Gbagbo, has refused to step down, though election results indicate he had been defeated by challenger Alassane Ouattara. 

Due to post-election unrest in Ivory Coast, an estimated 100 refugees had been arriving in Liberia every day.  The spike of 11,000 arrivals on Thursday was particularly worrying.  The United Nations has expressed concern that the country is on the brink of civil war, and they expect more than 150,000 refugees to seek refuge in Liberia by the end of March.

The American Refugee Committee team has been responding to the crisis since December, constructing shelters to house refugees in Nimba County, Liberia.  “We are deeply concerned about the people who have been forced from their homes,” added Wordsworth.  “We plan to continue providing assistance to people as long as we are needed.”

About the American Refugee Committee
American Refugee Committee programs are built from the ground up.  We work with people at the most vulnerable points in their lives, when they have lost everything to war or disaster.  They let us know what they need most, and we work together to develop ways to help them get it.  Our programs are as diverse as the people we serve, but they all work together for the same goal:  to help people take back control of their lives.  We help nearly 2.5 million people a year through programs around the world.  We are based in Minneapolis, MN.  ARC has provided relief services in Liberia since 2003. 

To Make A Donation
To donate to the American Refugee Committee, visit www.arcrelief.org, call 800-875-7060 or write to:

American Refugee Committee
430 Oak Grove Street, Suite 204
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Press contact: Therese Gales at (612) 221-5161 or (612) 607-6494

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