Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire: Humanitarians warn of health risk

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ABIDJAN, 13 January (IRIN) - Warnings of possible health epidemics have increased in the last several weeks as the four-month old crisis in Côte d'Ivoire continues to affect thousands of people.
On Thursday in the economic capital, Abidjan, the emergency coordinator of the World Food Programme Gemmo Lodesani, warned of the health consequences of the crisis which had led to the displacement of thousands of people.

For WFP and other humanitarian agencies, western and southwestern Côte d'Ivoire represented the latest concerns as the area had become the latest "hotspot" after a recent series of clashes with rebel movements. Towns in central and northern Côte d'Ivoire- the areas first affected- were also were also stalked by diseases due to a lack of medical staff and supplies.

Measles, cholera, yellow fever, meningitis appeared as the main concerns of the World Health Organization and partner agencies as these communicable diseases could spread easily amid the internally displaced persons (IDP) community.

In the southwestern port city of San Pedro, the head of the town Red Cross office told IRIN that there was a risk of disease outbreaks among children.

The recent fighting in western Côte d'Ivoire has increased by several thousands the number of IDPs in the country.

It is this volatile humanitarian situation that the UN's Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie is expected in Abidjan on Friday where, during her mission which will also take her to neighbouring countries, she will lobby in favour of the work of the humanitarian community, humanitarian access in the overall perspective of ending the conflict which started 17 September 2002.

In a press briefing In Geneva, McAskie said the Ivorian crisis was a good lesson and an excellent example that early warning did not necessarily mean conflict prevention. Although the crisis had been recognized early, the scale of the conflict that had arisen was such that it could not be contained.

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