US sets $12.6 mln in aid for Ivory Coast refugees

March 8, 2011 02:19

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama said on Monday he had authorized up to $12.6 million in aid to assist refugees from unrest in the Ivory Coast.

An 8,000-strong United Nations force is trying to keep a stand-off between Ivory Coast's rival presidential claimants, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, from tipping into a civil war, as clashes between factions loyal to each side grow increasingly violent.

The United Nations says at least 365 people have been killed in the crisis since a disputed presidential election in November, although diplomats believe the figure is far higher.

Around 300,000 Ivorians have fled their homes to shelter elsewhere in the country, and 72,000 have taken refuge across the border in Liberia, the UN refugee agency estimates.

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