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Ivory Coast refugees exceed 20,000: UNHCR

The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that it had registered more than 20,000 refugees from Ivory Coast in neighbouring Liberia since post-elections tensions flared up late November.

The figure compared with about 18,000 recorded by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last Friday.

“More than 20,000 have been registered in Liberia,” Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the UNHCR, told AFP on Tuesday.

“They are still arriving at a rate of about 400 to 500 a day,” he added.

Another 222 Ivorians have fled to Guinea while 19 have sought refuge in Ghana, according to the UNHCR.

Most of those who have fled violence and the tense political standoff between rival presidential candidates Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara in Ivory Coast are women and children.

The UNHCR is studying two or three possible locations for a camp for the Ivorian refugees near the Liberian town of Saclepea, Baloch said.

The agency has supplies in the region to help up to 30,000 Ivorian refugees.

The United Nations says that at least 179 people have been killed in post-election violence but that it has been unable to fully investigate credible reports of “atrocities” because of attacks on its personnel.

African mediators said Tuesday that Ivory Coast’s political crisis was deadlocked, as strongman Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down despite international pressure.