Ivorian refugees still divided over civil conflict

By our Monrovia Correspondent | October 3, 2013

Investigation in Grand Gedeh Country by our own correspondent has established that Ivorian refugees residing at the Plant Timber Product (PTP) camp near Zwedru City are still divided over the recent civil conflict that plunged their country into years of brutality.

Speaking in an exclusive Interview with our correspondent over the weekend at the PTP camp, in Zwedru, some of the refugees openly pledged support to the revolutionary fighters, while others feel that then incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo did not deserve any revolutionary opposition.

“Gbagbo did nothing to be attacked.  We led Ivory Coast into development, they just wanted to enrich themselves, that is why they did what they did,” said Jolle Dehada, a young Ivorian woman.

“Gbagbo did extremely well for Ivory Coast, but you know people are very hard to be satisfied that is why they brought the war,” Stephanie Yonnibo another refugee stated.
“For me Gbagbo was the reason behind the conflict in Ivory Coast. He lost the election but refused to step down and furthermore his wife was almost running the country like her house and you know some Ivorian were tired of such action,” Soa Nelodie countered.

In December 2010, Ivory Coast made headlines following an election dispute that sparked violence between supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo and then opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.

The dispute revolved around results announced by the electoral commission, which crowned Ouattara the winner in a second round of voting for the presidency. Gbagbo, whose stronghold is in the south of the country, rejected the results and refused to step down alleging that rigging in the opposition home base in northern Ivory Coast inflated votes for Ouattara.

Subsequently, Ivory Coast was thrown into political deadlock. Both politicians were “sworn-in” as presidents and each appointed a cabinet.

The international community endorsed Ouattara as president and called on Gbagbo to step down. Clashes between supporters of both politicians resulted in the loss of lives, destruction of property, and massive displacement of people.

The violence effectively divided the country into two: the north largely controlled by rebels backing Ouattara; while the army under Gbagbo, controlled the south.

This division still exists among people who were displaced as a result of the conflict. Many of the refugees in the camp were people evicted from the Southern region, which was controlled by the Gbagbo supported army.

Mr. Albert Dolo, an employee of the Liberia Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) who works as superintended of a section of the camp told this paper that many of the refugees do not feel safe about returning.

He said the LRRRC in collaboration with the number NGOs working in the camp will continue to support the displaced Ivorian as many of them are still reluctant about returning.

He said the LRRRC in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are proving the basic needs of the refugees, with shelter being a major component. He said with the support given to refugees by the LRRRC and the rest of the NGOs, many of them do not want to return home.