The stalemate in implementing the Linas-Marcoussis accord continues as Ivorian Prime Minister Seydou Diarra negotiates with the Ivorian authorities, rebel groups, and the international community, over how to distribute key ministries in the reconciliation government. MPCI rebel-group leader Soro Guillaume arrived in Paris on Friday 21 February to discuss application of the accord with actors including French authorities and the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to the Ivorian Crisis, Mr. Albert Tevoedjre. As the conflict drags on, the food security and health of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities are becoming increasingly tenuous, and the entire sub-region is being touched by the effects of the strangled economy and instability. Public services are not functioning in zones under rebel control, and reports of violence, growing inter-ethnic tensions, and human rights abuses continue to stream in from the entire country. Third country nationals continue to flee the country. Another muslim cleric in Abidjan and a muslim in a town just north of Abidjan were killed during the reporting period. A UN inter-agency, inter-disciplinary delegation arrived this weekend in Cote d'Ivoire on a 12-day mission to evaluate various aspects of the security situation, and to see how the UN can contribute to ending the conflict through application of the Marcoussis accord.
The Ivorian Government reported that combat with MPCI rebels in the village of Badiefla, some 20 kilometres northeast of the town of Zuenoula and 280 kilometres northwest of Abidjan, took place on Wednesday 19 February. The fighting resulted in a dozen wounded and one missing Government soldier. This followed the killing of 5 civilians in the same village on the evening of Saturday 8 February, according to the Government, by rebel elements. The rebels claim that the Government is attempting to "frame" them.
International / Regional
Ivorian Prime Minister Seydou Diarra attended the 22nd Franco-African summit, which ended Friday 22 February in Paris. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told delegates there, "I call on all Ivorians, and particularly the country's political leaders - in particular Laurent Gbagbo - to make the agreement they signed last month a concrete first step towards peace."
The UN Security Council issued a statement on 21 February calling, "again on all Ivorian political forces to implement fully and without delay the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement and to cooperate with the Monitoring Committee to that end... They called on all parties to respect human rights and international humanitarian law for the entire population regardless of its origin." Both the European and African Unions have voiced full support for the Marcoussis-Linas accord.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION & RESPONSE
Protection - Amnesty International has added its voice to UNHCR's continuing appeals to find a solution for some 40,000 Liberian refugees remaining in Cote d'Ivoire, including some 7,000 in Nicla refugee camp outside the town of Guiglo. "Liberian refugees are being indiscriminately associated with the armed opposition" and are being killed both by Ivorian security forces and groups of civilians, some of them armed by the government," they said in a report dated 20 February. UNHCR continues voluntary repatriation of extremely vulnerable Liberian refugees from the town of Tabou in southwestern Cote d'Ivoire: as of 19 February, 2,200 had been repatriated. Liberian refugees currently being housed in transit centers in Abidjan staged several sit-ins in front of UNHCR's office in Abidjan during the reporting period, demanding to be moved to a safer location.
The NGO Solidarities further reports that near the western towns of Guiglo and Duekoue, around 85,000 people have fled military confrontation, rape, pillaging, summary executions and exactions. Shelter and hygiene conditions in the overpopulated villages situated on the fringe of combat zones in the area, they report, are deplorable, and humanitarian assistance is not yet in place. They have issued an urgent appeal for funding.
A UNOCHA advocacy officer arrived in Abidjan on Saturday 22 February for a one-week mission to address the role of the media in resolving the current conflict.
Access - The western area of the country along the border with Liberia and in particular the area between the towns of Toulepleu, Guiglo and Touba remains highly unstable. WFP received information from the Government Crisis Cell and the Ivorian Red Cross indicating that some 40,000 IDPs are present in the Toulepleu-Guiglo area. The national daily Notre Reveil reported on 18 February that the area surrounding Toulepleu had been "ravaged" by MPIGO forces and Liberian mercenaries. WFP has undertaken missions in the past week to the western town of Guiglo and to the southwestern towns of San Pedro and Tabou to assess the food security situation of vulnerable populations and IDPs in those areas, including the town of Grabo, recently retaken by Government forces. MSF Holland reports that there are some 2,000 IDPs in Grabo, that foreigners are suffering from human rights abuses there, that the town has been looted, and that food security was tenuous. An inter-agency UN mission to the western towns of Man and Danane is also being carried out (21-23 February). Reports of atrocities and lawlessness in the west, and large numbers of IDPs fleeing violence are extremely worrying.
Coordination - A UN Inter-Agency Humanitarian Coordination Committee (IAHCC), chaired by Gemmo Lodesani of WFP, was established in Cote d'Ivoire to better coordinate and deliver humanitarian aid in the context of the current crisis.
Because the vast majority of IDPs in Cote d'Ivoire have found shelter and support with host families, establishing their location and numbers has been extremely difficult. OCHA initiated an Ad Hoc Working Group on IDP presence in Cote d'Ivoire, which met twice in the past two weeks to share information on the subject among humanitarian actors. UN Agencies, the Ivorian Government and local and international NGOs participated. The conclusions and considerations of the Working Group have been passed on to the Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC), which began operations last week at OCHA's offices, and will follow up with targeted, comprehensive, nationwide data collection to obtain a reliable estimate. The HIC works in collaboration with the National Centre for Teledetection and Geographical Information [unofficial translation], to produce informational materials for the humanitarian community, including maps.
Education - UNICEF, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, launched the "Back to School" campaign in Yamoussoukro, the nation's official capital, on 13 February. More than 130,000 children in the area are targeted through support to several schools in the form of school supplies and recreational equipment. More funding is needed to enable children in other areas affected by violence and instability to enjoy one of their basic rights, the right to schooling. UNICEF estimates that one million primary school-age children and 250,000 secondary school-age children have had their educations brutally interrupted since violence erupted on 19 September 2002.
Food Security - WFP continues to provide food aid to vulnerable populations in and around Bouake, and monitor the food security situation of IDPs and host families in Yamoussoukro and the sub-prefecture of Didievi with NGO partners including CARE. They have implemented a supplementary feeding programme for 30 moderately malnourished children located in the Mie N'Gou reception center in Yamoussoukro with the national NGO ASAPSU. Mie N'Gou remains overcrowded and underfunded, lacking adequate hygiene infrastructure and logistical support. WFP is working with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education under a School Feeding Programme aimed at ensuring that children attend school in areas affected by violence and instability. In Abidjan, WFP delivered food to 1,037 victims of shantytown destruction in seven UNHCR refugee transit centers during the reporting period.
Health - The World Health Organisation issued a comprehensive report on the effects of the current crisis on health care mechanisms in Cote d'Ivoire on 12 February. The report highlights that 85% of medical personnel in rebel-held zones have left their posts, and that at least 70% of health care facilities are not functioning. Medecins du Monde report that in Seguela they are providing medical assistance and support to the regional hospital, a Pediatric and Maternity Centre, and seven area health centers. Of particular concern are reports of malnutrition in children under five years of age, many severe cases of malaria resulting in death, and elevated rates of births of underweight babies and mothers dying during childbirth.
Donor support for humanitarian initiatives in Cote d'Ivoire is an urgent concern. Well under half of the funding requested by UN Agencies for emergency interventions has been received.
The latest financial tracking tables can be viewed on-line at any time at www.reliefweb.int/fts
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