UN refugees chief urges 'urgent action' to end ICoast crisis

10th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres called Thursday for an "urgent international political action" to help end a political stalemate in Ivory Coast.

"The political blockade is becoming more deeply entrenched causing the humanitarian situation to get worse and worse. People are very afraid," said the UN refugees chief.

"Urgent international political action is necessary to resolve the stalemate and restore calm," added Guterres, pointing out that "all citizens of Cote d'Ivoire should feel secure at home and no longer forced to flee in search of safety."

Tensions have mounted in the West African nation since strongman Laurent Gbagbo refused to stand down as president and hand over power to Alassane Ouattara after the November elections.

At least 35,000 Ivorians have fled to neighbouring Liberia amid threats of violence, according to UNHCR data.

"If the situation continues, we face the risk of a possible massive displacement of Ivorians," warned Guterres, noting that this could have a negative impact on Liberia, which is just recovering from civil war.

© 2011 AFP

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