The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Ivorian government on Tuesday started preparing for the return of Ivorian refugees who fled the bloody post-election violence that erupted in 2010-11.
The country’s social cohesion minister, Mariatou Kone pledged that “no-one would be arrested on their return” while indicating a possible amnesty for returnees that were opposed to current President Alassane Ouattara..
“They fear that when they return they will be attacked by their neighbors, but they will be more secure. And there is still also, say, a small group that thinks they cant go back since the old President is not back in power,“said Liz Kapam Ahua, UNHCRS’s representative for West Africa.
Officials are currently working to cultivate confidence so that the refugees can return home. So far no significant progress has been made.
“It is necessary that these people have confidence to go back. They think that upon returning they are going to be seen as enemies of Ivory Coast,” minister Mariatou Kone said.
A system has also been set up for those refugees who are not willing to return home.
“We have also implemented a set of local integration activities that could promote their permanent integration in countries of asylum and promote course in the dynamics of reintegration in Ivory Coast,“UNHCR’s representative in Ivory coast Mohammed Toure said.
According to the UNHCR, more than two-thirds of the 300,000 Ivorians who fled to Ghana, Guinea and Liberia are no longer registered.