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Cote d’Ivoire: Refugee Farmer Says He’s Worried About His Fields

Tia Paul’s family of 12 depend on the cocoa and coffee farm that he left behind in November when fighting broke out across Cote d’Ivoire. Though lucky enough to have relatives in Liberia to stay with, he says he’s worried what could happen to his farm while he’s away.

Tia Paul and his wife at the site of a food distribution in eastern Liberia. Copyright: WFP/Roslyn Ratliff

Tia Paul’s family of 12 depend on the cocoa and coffee farm that he left behind in November when fighting broke out across Cote d’Ivoire. Though lucky enough to have relatives in Liberia to stay with, he says he’s worried what could happen to his farm while he’s away.

BUUTUO (Liberia)--Tia Paul is an elderly farmer whose family of 12 lives a mere two hours’ walk from the Liberian border. They left their farm behind in November, at the outbreak of fighting in Cote d’Ivoire, to stay with relatives in the Buutuo area of Liberia.

"I want to return to Côte d'Ivoire once the fighting stops," says Paul, who worries about the state of his coffee and cocoa fields back home.

Luckier than most

Like over 20,000 other Ivorian refugees in Buutuo, Paul and his family are getting by on food assistance. But having family to count on and being a familiar face in the area make him luckier than most.

Paul says that he’s been well received since coming to Buutuo, where the growing number of Ivorian refugees is putting a strain on the local population. In fact, he’s helping to clear land for his relatives with an eye towards starting a second farm on a plot of his own.

That way, Paul says, whatever happens in Cote d’Ivoire, he and his family will have a safety net to fall back on in Liberia.