Oxfam airlifts aid to refugees fleeing fighting in Ivory Coast

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 15 Mar 2011

International agency Oxfam has flown relief supplies for 70,000 people from the UK to Liberia. The aid is in response to the escalating humanitarian crisis as people continue to flee the political violence that continues to affect Ivory Coast.

The agency airlifted water tanks and drilling equipment, together with essential supplies such as latrines, to help provide clean water and safe sanitation to the increasing number of refugees fleeing to villages along the Ivory Coast-Liberia border.

Nearly 77,000 people have so far crossed into Liberia but this number continues to rise as insecurity worsens.

“People are arriving in Liberia with next to nothing and are being forced to live in makeshift shelter with little in the way of essential shelter, water or food,” said Chals Wontewe, Oxfam’s Country Director in Liberia.

“Poor communities in Liberia have been helping refugees for months now, but the recent influx of refugees has stretched their meagre resources to the limit.”

Oxfam supplies will be transported overland to Nimba county and Grand Gedeh in the east of Liberia where camps are being prepared for an anticipated quarter of a million refugees.

The crisis in the region began almost four months ago following the contested presidential election in Ivory Coast, which has caused months of instability, abuse and violent clashes in the country, leaving hundreds dead and thousands displaced from their homes.

Oxfam has been working in Liberia for more than a decade and is gearing up its response to the escalating humanitarian crisis. It has deployed humanitarian experts to the worst-affected area and is planning to provide seeds and agricultural support to host families who have used up their food stocks supporting refugees in their own homes.

The agency is also monitoring the situation in other neighbouring countries where hundreds of refugees have already fled.

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795.

Notes to editors:
1. The 77,000 refugees in Liberia are in addition to some 370,000 people displaced in Abidjan and western Cote d’Ivoire.

2. Oxfam will be airlifting supplies by charter flight from Manston, Kent’s International airport, to Roberts Field Airport, Liberia’s main international airport about 60 kilometres from Monrovia.

3. More than 40 tonnes of supplies are being flown to Liberia, including one drilling rig, borehole materials water tanks, water trucking bladders, pipes, pump kits, water testing kits, water disinfection tablets, latrine slabs, sheeting for emergency latrines and hygiene promotion kits.