United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Benin, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8ba1c.html [accessed 26 January 2015]
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Benin hosted some 11,000 refugees at the end of 1996, including about 10,000 from Togo and nearly 1,000 from Nigeria. Togolese Refugees Up to 150,000 Togolese refugees fled to Benin in 1993 to escape political violence in their own country. About 100,000 returned to Togo on their own during 1993-95. An additional 22,000 repatriated from Benin with UNHCR assistance. Nearly 25,000 Togolese remained in Benin at the start of 1996. UNHCR requested $9 million from international donors in April 1996 to fund the organized repatriation of the region's remaining Togolese refugees, including those in Benin. Donors responded by contributing about $3.3 million to the program. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Togolese repatriated from Benin during the year, most of them with UNHCR assistance. Nearly half of the assisted returns occurred in July and September. Refugees who registered to repatriate received the equivalent of about $60 for transportation and reintegration. Those who repatriated in the second half of the year received a three-month food supply. Most refugees in Benin resided with local families or friends. Although the government and citizens of Benin have generally displayed hospitality toward the refugee population, social services such as schools and health clinics struggled to meet the refugees' needs. WFP halved food rations during 1996, and food distributions were "often irregular and the rations [were] incomplete," UNHCR reported. Only 4,000 Togolese refugees were receiving humanitarian assistance as the year ended. Refugees who were prominent opponents of Togo's government have expressed concern about their safety in Benin due to alleged infiltrations of refugee sites by Togolese government agents. UNHCR temporarily transferred 200 refugees out of the capital, Cotonou, to protect them from Togolese agents in late 1995. "[Benin] authorities...do their best to protect the refugees," but often their efforts were insufficient, a Togolese refugee asserted in a letter to USCR in 1996. Observers predicted that several thousand Togolese refugees who feared persecution in Togo might choose to remain in Benin beyond the scheduled end of the repatriation program in April 1997. UNHCR reported that Benin and its people continued to welcome the refugee population. Other Refugees Hundreds of Nigerian refugees arrived in Benin during the year. Most were ethnic Ogonis. UNHCR planned to settle them at a site near the Nigeria-Benin border, 40 miles from Cotonou. The refugees complained that the site's proximity to the border exposed them to danger from Nigerian government agents. The refugee population reportedly posted guards at night to protect against infiltrators. Benin's government indicated that it would be unwilling to accept a boatload of some 400 refugees from Liberia who tried to find asylum in several West African countries in mid-1996. The boat, the Zolotitsa, returned to Liberia. n