Côte d’Ivoire: UN calls attention to unmet needs of conflict affected communities

By United Nations

Thousands of people in southern, central and western Côte d'Ivoire remain in great need of humanitarian aid, United Nations officials in the country reported today, stressing that priority requirements include health care, education, water, shelter and protection of those affected by the recent post-election violence.

“Despite our commitment to support the people and the Government, insecurity still limits our ability to provide aid in Yopougon and Abobo neighbourhoods in Abidjan as well as in the vicinity of Zouan Hounien, Toulepleu and Bloléquin, where instability persists,” said Ndolamb Ngokwey, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Côte d'Ivoire, in a press release.

Over the past three weeks, the humanitarian community, supported by the UN Disaster and Assessment Coordination team (UNDAC), has assessed needs in Abidjan, the country's commercial capital, and the rest of the country, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Medical supplies, including drugs and equipment, and personnel have been provided to hospitals, and a mobile clinic is now available in the west and in Abidjan for those who are unable to reach health centres or hospitals.

According to UN estimates, an estimated 1 million Ivorians were displaced by the violence, including those who fled to neighbouring countries – particularly Liberia, which is hosting 135,000 Ivorian refugees.

The crisis ended earlier this month when former president Laurent Gbagbo finally surrendered, ending months of violence that erupted in the wake of his refusal to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off election last November to Alassane Ouattara.

The reopening of schools remains a challenge due to the displacement of children and teachers, the looting of equipment, schools being used as shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs), and insecurity in Abidjan neighbourhoods, including Yopougon and Abobo, according to OCHA.

Aid workers have supplied educational materials, created temporary classes and recruited volunteer teachers. A school feeding programme is also planned to encourage children to return and to provide nutritional support. Up to 800,000 children have been out of school during the past four to six months because of the unrest.

Measures have been taken to restore the water supply in Abidjan and, progressively, in the rest of the country, although shortages are still frequent in Man in the west. Uncollected garbage in Abidjan, Man and Duékoué poses a threat to public health for which urgent action is required, OCHA said.

In Abidjan, garbage collection is in progress in accessible neighbourhoods and humanitarian workers are supporting community initiatives in Duékoué and Man, but more resources are needed to expand work in other areas.

“More must be done to protect civilians and assist victims of rape and assault, which continue in areas of the country that remain insecure. This must stop, and law and order must be restored so that the population can live in peace,” said Mr. Ngokwey.

Neils Scott, the head of OCHA in Côte d'Ivoire, said overcrowding in the Catholic Mission in Duékoué, currently sheltering 28,000 people, is unacceptable. “Humanitarian workers are continuing work to reduce the size of the camp population to a manageable level,” said Mr. Scott.

Due to the displacement and looting, farming households are in need of both immediate and longer-term assistance to resume agricultural activities.

Donors have so far provided only 20 per cent of the $160 million requested to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, according to OCHA.