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Fri Mar 27 03:59:23 SAST 2015

About 900 Ivorian refugees in Togo

Sapa-AFP | 30 March, 2011 19:400 Comments
A woman carrying her child runs past burning tyres on a street of Abidjan

About 900 Ivorians who fled the bloody post-election violence in their country are taking refuge in Togo, the west African representative of the UN refugee agency UNHCR said in Lome.

"We currently have 900 Ivorians taking refuge in Togo and requesting for UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) protection," Valentin Tapsoba said on national television after a meeting with President Faure Gnassingbe.

"The UNHCR representative is trying to register, in collaboration with the Togolese government, these Ivorians seeking asylum. I have come to thank the head of state ... because the government has opened his doors to distressed Ivorians," he said.

Forces backing Ivory Coast's recognised president Alassane Ouattara on Wednesday seized the capital Yamassoukrou in a vast offensive to wrest control after a disputed November election.

Fighters loyal to Ouattara also took control of another town 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of San Pedro, the strategically important cocoa exporting port.

Outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo, who is refusing to step down after the election, has called for an immediate ceasefire and talks with his rival as a bloody presidential stand-off pushes the world's top cocoa producer into civil war.

Ouattara has rejected the African Union's appointment of Cape Verde's former foreign minister Jose Brito to mediate the crisis -- citing his personal ties to Gbagbo.

Election-linked violence has left at least 460 people dead with as many as one million fleeing their homes, according to UN agencies.

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