Emergency support for children fleeing Cote d'Ivoire
Plan is expanding its emergency education and protection programmes for thousands of children along the Liberia border, as families continue to pour into the country to escape fighting in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
Liberian communities are being stretched to breaking point by the massive influx of people seeking refuge, amid fears of an escalation of retribution attacks.
Plan teams have visited one village in Grand Gedeh, Liberia, which has seen its population swell from 1,800 to 10,400 people. Two-thirds of those crossing are women and children.
Vulnerable and traumatised
Children who have been separated from their families during the crossing are particularly vulnerable, warn Plan experts.
“The situation for children is very worrying. Some have had to walk through dense jungle for up to 4 days to reach Liberia and have witnessed violence and killings. These children and families are traumatised and need support to overcome the atrocities they have seen. The communities in Liberia also need help to cope with this,” said Mohamed Bah, Plan’s country director in Liberia.
Plan’s teams on the ground are scaling up their response to the emergency and in the coming months will provide education and protection services for up to 25,000 children and their families.
Plan has already ensured that 3 primary schools are operational in the area, trained 15 teachers and 45 early childhood care and development support staff, as well as conducted child protection awareness sessions with more than 3,000 people.
Liberia under strain
“It will take people a long time to feel safe to return to their homes in Cote d’Ivoire and we are expecting more refugees to arrive in Grand Gedeh and neighbouring counties before the situation calms. Many people, however, may not have homes to go to as our teams met families whose villages had been completely burnt to the ground,” said Berenger Berehoudougou, Plan’s regional disaster expert, who visited Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties recently.
Although the crisis is far from over, there is a need to return as swiftly as possible to normal life in the coming months for the refugees and Liberian communities.
The crisis in the region began 5 months ago following the contested presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire. An estimated 150,000 people have so far crossed into Liberia and this number continues to rise.
Read more about Plan’s work in Liberia