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Ivorian refugees in Togo in dilemma as their status nears end

Avepozo camp in Togo where Ivorian refugees stay   -  
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Jean Christophe is well conversant with Avepozo refugee camp located in the suburbs of Lomé, the Togolese capital.

He took refuge in this camp when his country, Côte d'Ivoire, was shaken by the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011.

However, he has to move out because he will at the end of June 2022, his asylum status will come to an end. This also applies to several others in the camp.

will mark the end of their refugee status for him and for all the Ivorians in the camp. Here, many are faced with a dilemma: leave or stay in Togo where they have rebuilt their lives.

"Given what we have experienced, fear has made us decide to stay here for a while. We won't stay here forever, we'll go back sooner or later," said Pierre Christophe, an Ivorian refugee.

Last week, 189 passports were issued to Ivorians who wished to stay in Togo by the United Nations refugee agency and the Ivorian government to facilitate their repatriation or local integration.

"Our refugee cards will be deactivated so if we don't have an administrative document, we won't even be able to access small microfinance or go to the bank for small operations," said Pierre Christophe, an Ivorian refugee.

The cessation of refugee status for Ivorians was recommended by the UNHCR after Ivory Coast regained its stability.

"The UNHCR remains committed to accompanying the process that will lead to the granting of privileged residence permits in Togo for 10 years to whoever was a refugee. Therefore with the granting of these documents, your refugee status will seize," said Monique Atayi Kouassi,  the head of UNHCT Togo.

Since 2011, some 290,000 Ivorian refugees have settled in other West African countries. In Togo, there are still 800 Ivorian refugees who still have to decide whether to leave or stay, following the closure of Avepozo refugee camp according to UNHCR .

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