Update July/August 2003
Tensions have been heightened recently in Côte d’Ivoire due to the arrest of Ibrahim Coulibaly in France, accused of plotting the assassination of President Laurent Gbagbo. The Forces Nouvelles have demanded his release. Although Forces Nouvelles ministers remain a part of the National Government of Reconciliation, a debate on who should fill the key, unoccupied posts of Defense and Interior ministers continues.
The humanitarian situation remains worrisome. Public services are still not available in the north and in the Government-controlled west, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without access to basic health care, and threatening to deprive tens of thousands of children of a second consecutive year of education. In the west, ethnic tensions that have simmered for years, as well as animosities resulting from the recent violence, are rising. It is hoped that the Government will re-deploy administration, health staff and teachers to the west in the near future, as the UN and NGOs do not have the resources to provide the services necessary to populations there.
Political / Military Context
According to the UN Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI), published on 13 August, the general security situation in Cote d’Ivoire has improved. However, the report did identify a set of worrying trends, notably the purchase of arms by government and rebel forces. Other security concerns in the report include the activities of armed militias opposed to the Marcoussis Accord in Abidjan; the checkpoints maintained by uncontrolled elements of the Forces Nouvelles on northern routes, and the continuing presence of freelance Liberian fighters in the west.
On Monday 24 August, drunken Forces Nouvelles fighters reportedly opened fire on a French patrol near Sakassou, killing two soldiers and wounding another.
In Western Cote d’Ivoire, the main focus of humanitarian operations, security remains very poor outside the main towns and away from the main roads.
Humanitarian Situation & Response
I. Population Movements
Expulsion of Immigrants from Villages in Western Cote d’Ivoire
The effective delivery of humanitarian assistance in Western Cote d’Ivoire is being hampered by ethnic tensions. Local chiefs are ordering the expulsion of Ivorians not native to the zone, and immigrant workers of various West African nationalities, from villages around Toulepleu, Zouan Hounien, Guiglo and Duekoue. Bands of youths are reported to be terrorising the harrassing immigrants. WFP has received unconfirmed reports of clashes on the Guiglo/ Blolequin axis as Burkinabés attempt to reclaim their fields.
In Guiglo, 5,390 displaced people have registered at the transit centre (WFP situation report 21-27 Aug) and hundreds more are arriving each day. The site does not have adequate shelter and sanitation facilities to cope with the influx and the humanitarian situation is considered critical. The NGO Solidarités has constructed 31 latrines, three wash areas and a water reservoir at a new IDP camp, and the Red Cross of Cote d’Ivoire is also carrying out hygiene and sanitation activities. Malnourished children from the IDP camp are being admitted to the MSF/WFP therapeutic feeding programme in Guiglo. On the 22nd of August, WFP/Solidarités distributed a 10-day food ration to all residents of the IDP camp.
Repatriation of West African Nationals
A total of 7,265 nationals of Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea have been voluntarily repatriated from Tabou, Guiglo and Duékoué by the OIM in a recently completed three-month exercise. The last repatriation convoy departed Côte d’Ivoire on 27 August. IOM will continue to monitor the situation, however no further repatriations are scheduled.
Resettlement of IDPs
Many IDPs at distribution centres around Man have expressed their desire to go back to their villages in discussions with WFP, but say they are constrained by the cost of transportation and the lack of educational facilities in their home area. If humanitarian agencies and/or government authorities would assist them with transportation and the process of resettlement, the IDPs confirm that they would go home willingly.
II. Food Security
WFP has been operating a number of programmes across the country tailored to help the most vulnerable groups: children, refugees, IDPs, nationals of West African countries, pregnant and breast feeding mothers, the mentally handicapped and families hosting IDPs. In August, WFP carried out general food distributions benefiting refugees, IDPs and host families in Tabou/San Pedro in the South-West; Man and Guiglo in the West; Bouaké and Korhogo in the North, and Daloa and Yamoussoukro in the Central belt. A break in the pipeline resulted in a 30% reduction in the WFP caseload for the month of August. The pipeline is expected to improve in November but a continuing shortfall of corn soya blend (CSB) is predicted.
CARE, based in the central city of Bouaké, conducted food distributions to IDPs and host families in the villages of Diabo, Botro and Tie N’Diekro in the north. A joint assessment by CARE and WFP of food distributions in three villages in rural Bouaké revealed that the number of beneficiaries was lower than expected. Lack of information about the date of the distribution is thought to be the main reason for the lower turn out.
In Abidjan, the IFRC distributed Red Cross ‘Food Baskets’ to 10,741 IDPs staying with host families. The programme was set up because many over-burdened hosts could no longer provide for the needs of the IDPs. Beneficiaries were identified by Cote d’Ivoire Red Cross (CRCI), with the help of local authorities and police, and were assessed according to strict criteria of need. Dates and venues for the food distributions were announced by Red Cross volunteers and government authorities.
The nutrition situation in Western Cote d’Ivoire is particularly alarming. Screening by NGOS active in the area, including MSF and Merlin, and the ICRC and Ivorian Red Cross show continued high rates of malnutrition as well as a high proportion of children with oedema. According to MSF, medical operations in the area are hampered by the lack of medical personnel and the absence of public structures and proper sanitation. The difficulty of access to medical treatment is also a problem.
In central and eastern areas of the country, a lack of medicine is reported to be the biggest stumbling block in providing for the needs of the IDP population. Earlier this year, UNICEF supplied its operational partners with medicines to cover the basic needs of 1.2 million people for three months. The agency provided 120 kits for the launch of basic medical centres and 30 kits tailored for maternity facilities. UNICEF is also supporting the provision of vaccines and the necessary cold storage in government and rebel held areas.
In Yamoussoukro, IRC are working with government officials to offer emergency obstetrics training in seven hospitals and 22 clinics, starting next week. IRC is also operating clinics in six villages in the southwestern town of Tabou near the Liberian border, where thousands of Liberians are seeking refuge. According to SAARA, there are some 56,402 Liberian refugees in southwestern Côte d’Ivoire.
IV. WATSAN/ Shelter
To cope with the pressure of the refugee population in Tabou, IRC has launched a project to restore 30 water points, repair existing pumps, construct new wells and provide sanitation facilities. GTZ has built eight shelters in Tabou housing 996 refugees. The shelters had previously been expected to hold 1,600 people. The lower figure is due in part to the partitioning of the shelters being organised by the refugees themselves.
GTZ has also constructed nine shelters, each housing 60 people, in the IDP camp in Guiglo. The capacity of shelters at the site is currently 2,400 people. A further ten shelters are planned.
WFP is using feeding programmes in schools and institutions in northern, western and central areas to gain direct access to vulnerable children, to encourage regular school attendance and to help demobilise child soldiers. The agency is assessing several primary schools in Man, Danane and Bangolo, with a view to providing emergency food assistance. In July, there were reports of school children refusing to attend class because they were hungry.
In Tabou, educational support is being provided by IRC in four villages and the refugee transit centre. As well as supplying learning materials, IRC is providing teacher training and carrying out repairs and extensions to existing establishments. Preparations are also underway to build five youth centres for adolescent refugees. The centres will run literacy classes and promote good hygiene and HIV awareness.
In response to the educational and recreational needs of IDP children in Abidjan and Yamoussoukro, UNICEF is running four "child friendly" centres in the cities. The agency has also supplied educational and recreational kits to three parishes in Bouaké, six parishes in Korhogo and one parish in Duékoué.
Erratic and generally below average rainfall in Cote d’Ivoire is aggravating the current climate of food insecurity. During the fighting, farmers were unable to tend their fields and were forced to eat their seed stocks to survive. Looters stole agricultural tools and food stocks. This has left many farmers in an impossible situation as they are without food, seeds or agricultural implements to restart cultivation. In the north, cotton farmers are facing severe food shortages as they were unable to sell their crop during the conflict. WFP has provided 563 cash crop dependant families in the Korhogo area with food aid.
In the West, FAO started distributing seed in the areas of Zouan Hounien and Bin Houyé. Local blacksmiths were employed to manufacture 400 traditional hoes for the project. Agricultural tools, rice seed, fertilizer and food to avoid the consumption of sowing seeds were also distributed to 468 families in the Guiglo area.
The FAO is currently carrying out a field mission in the Southwest to identify the 1,000 most needy people for a seed and tool project. Beneficiaries will be drawn from all groups: IDPs, West African nationals, refugees and local populations. The current tensions between local populations and Burkinabés, and the recent expulsions of non-native populations from villages in the west, will also have a detrimental effect on the food crisis in the southwest and west. Humanitarian sources estimate that 45% of agricultural workers are of Burkinabé origin. The UN and international community continue to appeal for more concrete efforts towards reconciliation.
VII. HIV/AIDS Prevention
In an initiative to prevent the spread of HIV AIDS, the government of Cote d’Ivoire has started to install condom machines in internet cafes in nine cities in the interior. The project, funded by Belgium and supervised by the UN Population Fund, provides young people with a cheap and easily accessible source of condoms. HIV infection rates in the country are estimated to be between 10 and 12%.
REGIONAL CROSS BORDER OPERATIONS
I. Cote d’Ivoire/Liberia
Between the 19th and the 22nd of August, an ICRC team conducted a survey of south-eastern Liberia. Four delegates from Cote d’Ivoire, including a doctor and a water and sanitation engineer, carried out the cross-border operation. The Zwedru region visited by the team is not accessible from Monrovia. Following the survey, ICRC hopes to provide humanitarian assistance to the area via Cote d’Ivoire. UN agencies are working closely with the relevant authorities, NGOs and the Red Cross to evaluate the feasibility of cross-border operations from Côte d’Ivoire into eastern Liberia.
I. CAP Workshop
On the 3rd, 4th and 5th of September, OCHA Côte d’Ivoire is organising a CAP workshop in Abidjan. The workshop aims to develop a common humanitarian action plan, upon which the inter-agency consolidated appeal for 2004 may be elaborated. Participants include representatives of the Ivorian government, UN agencies, national and international NGOs, International Organisations, donors and members of civil society.
"Cote d’Ivoire + 5" CAP 2003
*Although not reflected in this table, WFP reports that 80% of its requirements under the Côte d’Ivorie + 5 appeal have been covered.
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