UNHCR recommends ending refugee status for Ivorians by June

“In light of the fundamental and lasting changes in Côte d’Ivoire, I am pleased to recommend a general cessation of refugee status for Ivorian refugees as of June 30, 2022,” said the United Nations High Commissioner for the Filippo Grandi refugees.

Tens of thousands waiting

Based on data available for UNHCR, there are approximately 91,000 Ivorian refugees and asylum seekers in the world.

Some 51,000 live in West Africa, including 33,000 in Liberia alone and another 22,000 in Europe.

Since 2011, some 290,000 Ivorian refugees living in West Africa have returned voluntarily to Côte d’Ivoire and a UNHCR survey in the region found that 60% of those who remain intend to return, while 30 % are still undecided and 10% stay in their host country.

Defined steps

The recommendation for the cessation of refugee status is accompanied by concrete measures to promote durable solutions for Ivorian refugees that will facilitate their voluntary return and reintegration, and the possibility of applying for permanent residence or naturalization wherever they are, including including especially for those who have forged a solid bond with the host. countries.

“I am grateful for the example set by the government of Côte d’Ivoire as well as those of Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania and Togo, who have shown political will to implement a comprehensive roadmap for solutions to Ivorian refugees, some of whom have been displaced for decades, ”said Mr. Grandi during the annual session of the UNHCR Executive Committee.

Allowed exceptions

UNHCR this week welcomed the commitments made by States under the Comprehensive solutions strategy for Ivorian refugees, which include the right for persons benefiting from ongoing international protection to request an exemption from cessation through the safeguard procedures of international law.

UNHCR is organizing weekly transport from Liberia to assist Ivorians wishing to return home.

Since the end of August, some 5,000 refugees have been reunited with family members, some of whom had not been seen for decades. UNHCR also provides financial support to returning refugees to facilitate their reintegration.

“This regional effort deserves the applause of the entire international community,” said the High Commissioner.

Fleeing the turmoil

Ivorians fled two civil wars, first between 2002 and 2007, then from 2011 to 2012.

Thousands of people also fled to neighboring countries in 2020, fearing violence linked to presidential and parliamentary elections.

UNHCR remains committed to helping Côte d’Ivoire and host countries implement the cessation recommendation and continues to advocate for states to provide refugees with civil, identity and travel documents.

In Côte d’Ivoire, this includes issuing birth certificates, which ensure that people can enroll in school, obtain national identity cards and vote.

“It is essential that states and other actors fully support these solutions in a timely and concerted manner to facilitate social inclusion and reduce the risk of statelessness,” the UN refugee agency said.

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