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04 December 2020 – Cote d’Ivoire

Asylum Seekers Fleeing Electoral Tensions in Côte d'Ivoire Wait at the Buuto Border Post in Liberia, (UNHCR,
Asylum Seekers Fleeing Electoral Tensions in Côte d'Ivoire Wait at the Buuto Border Post in Liberia, (UNHCR, "Le HCR Intensifie l'Aide Humanitaire; Le Nombre des Réfugiés Ivoiriens Dépasse les 8000," 10 November 2020,

The first case of COVID-19 in Côte d’Ivoire was confirmed on 11 March after an Ivorian national returned from Italy. On 23 March 2020, the Government declared a state of emergency via Decree n°2020-351, put in place a curfew from 9PM to 5AM, and closed all restaurants, bars, and nightclubs and imposed further restrictive measures. These measures were progressively relaxed from May onwards, with the possibility of re-establishing them in areas where positive COVID-19 cases are identified.

UNHCR reported that more than 8,000 Ivorian nationals have fled to neighbouring countries amid political tensions in the country. More than 60 percent of arrivals are children, some of whom are unaccompanied or have been separated from their parents. Most of those that have fled have told UNHCR that they hope to stay close to the border in order to be able to return once the situation is stabilised. UNHCR stated they are planning to send essential relief items for up to 10,000 refugees in Liberia from their stockpiles in Dubai. At the same time, more than 500 Ivorians also arrived in Ghana, Guinea, and Togo where they are receiving assistance. By 23 November 2020, a total of 16,266 Ivorians had fled Côte d’Ivoire. According to UNHCR, fear of violence is the main driver of displacement, “and many arrivals are reporting being afraid of an imminent outbreak of violence due to the ongoing political tensions and the trauma of the 2011 post electoral conflict.”

In its submission to the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2018, UNHCR stated that although Côte d’Ivoire is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the country’s asylum system only provides minimum standards for the treatment of asylum seekers. It recommended adopting “an asylum law that establishes concrete admissibility criteria for asylum applications, ensures rapid and impartial consideration of asylum claims, and provides effective procedural safeguards for asylum applicants in compliance with the provisions of the 1951 Convention.” In addition, while Côte d’Ivoire had recently acceded to the Statelessness Conventions, UNHCR recommended that the Government consider ratifying key human rights treaties, including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

To date, the GDP has been unable to establish the extent to which detention facilities are used in Côte d’Ivoire as part of immigration enforcement procedures or obtain details on COVID-19 related measures taken to safeguard people in immigration custody.