NEW YORK: The head of the United Nations refugee agency on Thursday called for an immediate end to the political stalemate in Côte d'Ivoire, which has led tens of thousands to flee their homes amid violence and uncertainty.
"The political blockade is becoming more deeply entrenched, causing the humanitarian situation to get worse and worse," said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in a statement.
He added that his office has registered at least 35,000 Ivorian refugees in neighbouring Liberia, and an equal number of internally displaced persons in western Côte d’Ivoire who are in dire need of shelter and other basic relief supplies.
"We face the risk of a possible massive displacement of Ivorians,” said Mr. Guterres, adding that the crisis could also have a negative impact on Liberia, which is recovering from the 1999-2003 civil war, as well as other countries in the region.
Côte d’Ivoire has been in turmoil since early December when outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo, who was defeated in the November run-off elections by opposition candidate Lassane Ouattara, refused to step down despite the approval from the UN and the international community.
The 2010 presidential elections were meant to be the culminating point in reunifying a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.
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