The two transit sites set up by the Ivorian government to accommodate refugees fleeing jihadist violence in neighboring Burkina Faso should be operational “by the end of the month”, announced the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Côte d’Ivoire on Monday.
“These sites were built in two months. We should receive the first refugees at the end of this month. Everything needed to receive them is in place,” said Papa Kysma Sylla at a press conference in Abidjan.
In total, the two sites, 100% financed by the Ivorian government and located in Ouangolodougou (north) and Bouna (north-east), near the border with Burkina Faso, will be able to accommodate around 10,000 people.
The UNHCR has officially registered 15,835 asylum seekers, almost exclusively from Burkina Faso, but estimates the total number of arrivals at over 27,000.
Their numbers have soared in a year and a half: in February 2022, the UNHCR counted 7,000.
“Refugees are still arriving. Unfortunately, the numbers are increasing. From March onwards, we recorded more sustained arrivals”, said Mr. Sylla, on the eve of World Refugee Day.
Some of them have been taken in by relatives or friends in this region, where the same families sometimes live on either side of the 620 km border that separates the two countries.
The refugees are fleeing the deadly jihadist attacks that have affected Burkina Faso since 2015, sometimes perpetrated just a few kilometers from northern Côte d’Ivoire.
Blamed on groups affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, they have been escalating for several months and have claimed a total of more than 10,000 civilian and military lives in Burkina, according to NGOs.