In a step aimed at ending years of political hostilities, most of Togo’s feuding politicians have agreed on the general lines of a framework for holding free and fair elections. After several months of talks in the divided country, seven of the nine groups taking part signed a deal that aims to steer Togo onto a peaceful path to elections expected at the end of next year.

As seasonal rains begin to fall across West Africa, health officials in Togo fear outbreaks of malaria and cholera as people wade in filthy water up to their chests to go about their daily lives. Sources at Lome’s main Tokoin hospital say about 10 people a day have sought treatment for cholera since 20 June.

This booklet brings together the results of a research programme conducted on violence and abuse in schools in Togo. The publication describes the main forms of violence against children in schools: corporal punishment; forced labour; sexual harassment and sexual violence; and attempts to provide some understanding of the social framework within which such violence appears "normal".

In Ghana, UNHCR along with its government partners plans is to start a six-week verification exercise to confirm the presence of some 12,500 Togolese refugees in the Volta region of Ghana and facilitate the determination of refugee status by the authorities. The Togolese started fleeing to Ghana and Benin in late April last year during a violent political crisis. In Ghana, most found refuge with host families spread over a wide area.

When James Kouma completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Lome University 15 years ago, he tried and tried but failed to find “a proper job”, he says. Now 38 and a father of two, he earns a perilous living driving a motor-bike taxi or “Zemidjan”, along with thousands of other young people. While West Africa’s big cities are jammed pack with jobless graduates who would agree with him, student life is far tougher nowadays across the region than it ever was.