U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire


Refoulement/Asylum  There were no reports of refoulement. The Government granted prima facie status to 530 Liberians and conducted individual refugee status determinations for 374 asylum seekers, granting almost a quarter of them. The Constitution granted the right of asylum to anyone persecuted on account of their "political, religious, or philosophical convictions, or ethnic origin." A 1991 law created the Refugee Commission to process asylum claims and the Eligibility Committee to decide them. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) observed without vote on the Eligibility Committee. The newly created Appeals Commission did not begin hearing appeals. The Government retained a backlog of 2,100 cases.

Detention  Authorities detained refugees and asylum seekers. In coordination with the Government, UNHCR issued identity documents to individually recognized refugees and gave families granted prima facie status, usually in camps, registration documents entitling them to protection and rations. Security officers commonly demanded bribes from refugees and even destroyed identity documents. The 2003 Linas-Marcoussis Agreement required the Government to enact a new law by June 2003 governing the identification and naturalization of immigrants, but it did not do so.

In the south, where the Government still functioned, courts did not function properly and, in the northern rebel-held areas, there were no courts at all.

Right to Earn a Livelihood  In May, a new law allowed asylum seekers and refugees to work but the Government offered discriminatory tax incentives to employers who hired nationals. A 1998 law on rural land tenure remained in force, restricting land ownership to nationals and excluding all foreigners. Refugees could, however, rent land. Despite having the right to work, most refugees remained dependent on humanitarian aid due to instability, economic stagnation, and antirefugee sentiment among Ivorians.

Freedom of Movement and Residence  The Government allowed refugees to settle in villages and move about freely, but violence and security restrictions made movement unsafe. Camp leaders required a pass to leave the regions. More than 70 percent of refugees, including about 51,000 from Liberia, resided in three UNHCR-managed camps or transit centers: Nicla, Guiglo, and Tabou. More than 5,300 settled in and around Abidjan. The Government enforced strict limits on movement in the west, particularly near the Scio forest north of Blolequin, where rebels reportedly conscripted Liberian refugee youth and reopened a youth militia training camp. Government forces harassed nationals and refugees at numerous checkpoints.

The Government did not issue refugees formal identification or international travel documents.

Public Relief and Education  UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations provided food, water, and emergency health services to internally displaced persons and refugees. UNHCR also provided primary, secondary, and vocational education for some 3,800 urban refugees in Abidjan. The Tabou transit center remained overcrowded with over 43,000 refugees. Most relief agencies suspended operations in November following renewed violence.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)  There were more than 500,000 IDPs, with more than 100,000 in Abidjan. The 2002 civil war continued despite a cease-fire agreement and a power-sharing arrangement with the rebels. In June, an unidentified armed group killed foreigners and displaced thousands of farm workers from Burkina Faso in Guiglo and Duékoué. In November, the Government bombed rebel encampments and French troops in Bouaké, violating the 18-month old cease-fire and leading about 15,000 Ivorians to flee to Liberia, and about 2,500 IDPs to flee to Prikro and M'Bahiakro. In December, deadly riots broke out in Abidjan, and the Government demolished mostly immigrant squatter settlements, displacing 12,000.

IDPs were free to work and trade, but insecurity made it difficult. Authorities and rebels harassed and extorted money from the displaced. Security forces or local civilian militia erected roadblocks, demanded payment beat, or detained foreign travelers. IDPs received little aid though UNHCR provided water and sanitation near Blolequin in the west. Nearly 80 percent of IDPs were critically poor. The country's main IDP transit center in Guiglo sheltered 7,000, 1,000 more than capacity. In Yamoussoukro, the Government allowed 500 IDPs to use the Mie-N'Gou handicapped center as a temporary shelter. Thousands of displaced people along the Liberian-Ivorian border were in dire need of security, food, water, and medicine, with aid delivery hampered by poor roads and bridges. About 48,000 Ivorians sought asylum in Liberia, Guinea, Mali, and elsewhere. On April 6, 2005, the Government and rebel leaders reached a peace agreement.

Copyright 2005, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants


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