Nevertheless, UN agencies and NGOs have continued to provide relief aid to people displaced by the upheavals in the country, which began in September 2002, when an uprising by members of the military developed into a rebellion that has split the country into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south and east. Sections of the west are in rebel hands, other parts have remained under government control while the situation in some areas is unclear.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as many as 800,000 people could be displaced within Cote d'Ivoire. Over 200,000 have either become refugees in neighbouring countries or returned to their home countries.
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that it will be a long time before the country returns to the food security environment of pre-crisis days. Since the beginning of the crisis in September 2002 the UN agency has identified priority areas, including gaining safe access to the west and tracking the movement of internally displaced and targeting the most vulnerable, a WFP official told IRIN this week.
Recent missions have indicated future problems with food security in those areas which are currently hosting displaced populations, notably in the west. According to WFP, the sizes of many families across the country have increased by 30 percent and, in rural communities, households' food stocks will likely be depleted by the end of March - two to three months earlier than normal.
Because of the ongoing fighting and insecurity, the food situation in western Cote d'Ivoire will continue to deteriorate as food stocks are running low and supply lines have diminished, the official said.
However, the situation varies from area to area. In the north, food security is being exacerbated by a declining health situation due to the closure of medical facilities and a lack of cash brought on by the closure of banks. In the south, rising unemployment and growing family sizes are impacting on general nutrition.
The official said that as one of the leading emergency agencies, WFP would continue to collaborate with partner agencies to provide the necessary food aid. Since the start of the crisis, WFP has distributed about 2,000 tons of food aid to displaced and vulnerable people affected by the crisis.
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