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U.S. provides aid for Ivorian refugees

May 6, 2011 at 12:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- The United States announced it was pledging $8.5 million to help the estimated 170,000 refugees who fled Ivorian violence to Liberia.

The U.S. State Department said $6.5 million would support the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and $2 million would help finance efforts from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"This assistance will include provision of health care and essential household items, construction and maintenance of camps, increasing access to clean water and restoring family links severed as a result of displacement," the State Department said in a statement.

Forces under Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara announced this week they were in control of the commercial capital Abidjan, solidifying the leader's grip on power after a bloody political stalemate.

Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were displaced by conflict that followed a contested November presidential election mean to unite an Ivory Coast divided by civil war in 2002.

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down despite international recognition of Ouattara's victory.

Andris Piebalgs, the European Union's commissioner for development, arrived Friday in Abidjan to meet with Ouattara. The commissioner announced Thursday he was headed to the region to discuss at least $130 million in reconstruction projects.

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