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Number of postelection Togolese refugees in neighbouring countries passes 26000 – UN

The flow of Togolese fleeing feared disputes after last month’s presidential election has dropped drastically, but a mobile team, including staff members of the United Nations refugee agency, have 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 High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ghana to 12,800 from 10,866, the agency 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 said.Some of the refugees needed urgent food and non-food aid, as did the families hosting friends and relatives, it said. An inter-agency UN team was travelling along a 200-mile 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 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, UNHCR said.Meanwhile, the UN system will be launching a $5 million emergency appeal for the Togolese refugees in Benin for six months. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the appeal was being made on the basis of an assessment carried out by the United Nations and would cover protection, shelter, food, water, education, health and community services. Some 70 per cent 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. read more