- The number of post-election Togolese refugees in neighbouring countries has now passed 26,000, according to the UN's refugee agency UNHCR. The flow out of Togo, which recently slipped into political violence after the rigged presidential elections, was however dropping, the UN agency noted. Human rights group in Togo claim that until now, 800 persons had been killed since the violence erupted.
Eklou Clumson, Vice-President of Togo's Human Rights League (LTDH), today told the press in Lomé, the Togolese capital, that the death toll in Togo's election violence had reached at least 811. Further, more than 4500 had been injured before, during and after the rigged election last month. LTDH presented an 11-page report, documenting its calculations.
Reports from Lomé indicate that the situation in the city now is much calmer. This was also noted on the slowing refugee stream out of the country into neighbouring Benin and Ghana, which by now has reached a total of 26,000 persons.
According to the UNHCR spokesman, the flow of Togolese fleeing feared disputes after last month's presidential election "has dropped drastically." However, a mobile rescue team with staff from UNHCR And the government of Ghana, had found more than 1,000 refugees hidden in remote pockets near the Ghanaian border and in poor condition. These people could boost the number of people registered by the UN agency in Ghana to 12,800 from 10,866, the spokesman said today.
In the south-eastern Ghanaian area of Hevi, near the border point of Aflao, Chief Togbe Tu Agbalekpor III welcomed refugees into his palace and appealed to his people to do the same. They offered rooms and farmland to the refugees, UNHCR reported from Ghana.
Some of the refugees needed urgent food and non-food aid, as did the families hosting friends and relatives, the UN agency said. A UN team was now travelling along a large stretch of the Ghana-Togo border from Jasikan and Kadjebi to Aflao to assess food needs.
Refugee returns from Ghana to Togo fell to 15 yesterday from 850 on Sunday and Monday, UNHCR said. New entrants at Aflao numbered just three yesterday.
In Benin, meanwhile, UNHCR had found 1,000 Togolese refugees living with families and friends, or sleeping in public buildings in the Tchetti area. They declined to move into camps and the local authorities had given them anti-malarial bed nets.
More than 5,000 refugees had already moved to Come and Lokossa camps, where the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) had put in more sanitation facilities. More land was being cleared at Lokossa camp for housing for refugees sleeping on church grounds at Hilakondji, the UNHCR spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the UN was now to launch a US$ 5 million emergency appeal for the Togolese refugees in Benin for six months. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said the appeal was being made on the basis of a new assessment and would cover protection, shelter, food, water, education, health and community services. Some 70 percent of the refugees had been taken in by local families and the appeal included direct assistance to the refugees in the camps and also to those local families.
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