Crisis in Côte d'Ivoire Situation Report No. 22

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 01 Mar 2004
16th February - 1st March 2004
1. SIGNIFICANT EVENTS/ HIGHLIGHTS

The UN Security Council met on Friday 27th February and adopted resolution S/2004/146 establishing the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) as of 4th April 2004, when authority will be transferred from MINUCI and ECOWAS forces to UNOCI. Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed the Council briefly and commended Members for adopting the resolution. UNOCI will comprise of 6,240 UN personnel, including 200 military observers and 120 staff officers, and up to 350 civilian police officers.

Guillaume Soro, Secretary General of Forces Nouvelles and Minister of Communication, declared on Thursday 26th February that the FN will not disarm before "credible and transparent" elections planned for 2005 were held. Mr Soro, who was on a tour in Mali, insisted that issues such as land ownership and national identity must be resolved before the FN begin handing over their weapons.

Ethnic clashes continue in the west, on the 18th February two Burkinabé were killed and nine wounded in machete attacks in the government-controlled town of Duekoue in western Côte d'Ivoire. A group of about a hundred Guéré attacked a group of a dozen Burkinabé, whom they accused of being behind earlier attacks. These assaults represent the latest in a series of bloody clashes between Guéré tribesmen, other ethnic groups of Côte d'Ivoire and settlers from Burkina Faso and Mali.

Local NGOs, ASAPSU, 2AECI and SAHARA have brought attention to the tensions between ethnic groups in the North of the country, Ferkéssédougou (FN controlled zone). Following their mission from the 5th -9th February, this consortium of NGOs reported that there is a serious problem regarding social cohesion, especially between the Sénoufo and the Malinké based on economic competition and distrust.

M Doudou Diene, The UN Commision on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance finalised his visit to Côte d'Ivoire on the 20th February. Doudou Diene pointed out that Côte d'Ivoire was not traditionally a xenophobic country, and was well-known for it's hospitality towards foreigners, however unfortunately today the country is entangled in a dangerous dynamic of intolerance, stirring up violence, exactions and violations of human rights -in a discriminatory manor. His recommendations for sustainable solutions to the problem included a profound reconstruction of social fabric that was severely strained. The country has to pass through catharsis and acknowledge at highest level that violence of a discriminatory character, based on nationality or ethnicity will be prosecuted. Impartial parties should document all that has happened, either through an internal democratic process in CDI or externally. He also emphasised the importance of educating youths of the value of tolerance and inter-ethnic cooperation.

2. POLITICAL SITUATION & SECURITY

The United Nations Security Council have agreed to deploy 6,240 personnel to assist in the DDR process. A strengthened United Nations presence in Côte d'Ivoire will make it easier for the Government of National Reconciliation to implement the DDR programme. It will also facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance and the restoration of State authority throughout the country; contribute to the promotion of human rights and the re-establishment of the rule of law; and help the country prepare for the holding of fair and transparent general elections in 2005. With regard to humanitarian assistance, UNOCI is mandated "to facilitate the free flow of people, goods and humanitarian assistance, inter-alia, by helping to establish the necessary security conditions"; and requests the SG to give special attention to the gender and child-protection components with the staff of UNOCI. With regard to the French forces, LICORNE, the resolution authorizes them to "help to protect civilians, in the deployment areas of their units".

A meeting of the heads of the five United Nations peacekeeping and political missions in West Africa was held on Friday, 20 February in Dakar, Senegal. It followed requests by Security Council members for the missions to take concrete action towards implementing a regional approach, including pulling together United Nations assets across the region and exploiting synergies between the missions to achieve greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness. After the talks the UN officials issued a call in a final statement for a "regionally harmonised approach" in disarmament and demobilisation efforts. The statement highlighted several areas of concern, including the planned reduction of UN forces in Sierra Leone and tensions brewing in Guinea. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, which lie next to each other along the Atlantic Coast and all have borders with Guinea and its dense forests, are each at different stages in emerging from civil wars.

The Ivorian independent electoral committee met with representatives from the various political parties on the 24th February to discuss and the electoral process and how to assure transparent and credible presidential elections for 2005. Two methods for the electoral process were presented by SITEL. One of them involves an extensive modernisation and improvement of the electoral procedure. It involves using an electronic system for the registration of voters, using photo identification. With this system voter can present various forms of ID. The new method is quicker and more efficient than earlier methods used. There is no final decision as to whether this method will be adopted.

In the confidence zone between FN and government- held territory a mixed brigade of gendarmes will be established to meet the urgent demand for law and order in this area. The brigade is comprised of representatives from LICORNE, FANCI, FN and MINUCI. Their base will be in Bangolo.

3. HUMANITARIAN SITUATION & RESPONSE

3.1 Coordination

The consortium of local NGOs (ASAPSU, 2AECI and SAHARA) have requested OCHA to bring the problem of social cohesion between ethnic groups in the Northern area of Côte d'Ivoire to the attention of UN agencies. OCHA is preparing a draft report on the situation. There is an urgent need for a project or programme on communication and sensitisation to assist the local communities in efforts of reconciliation and social cohesion. There is a general problem of distrust and envy between the groups, the Senoufou believe they are repressed by the Malinké. As a result of the crisis many of the Senoufou have lost their source of revenue and feel that the Malinke are increasingly gathering power and have taken advantage of the situation to strengthen their position in the society -increased trades with the North etc. A full report will be available shortly.

The preliminary conclusions from the Government-led multi-sectoral assessment mission on the impact of the war were presented at the general coordination meeting on Wednesday 25th February. The Prime Minister's office, members of parliament and representatives from twenty-two ministries as well as representatives of humanitarian organisations participated in the mission, which covered western and central CDI (Bangolo, Danane, Yamoussoukro, Tabou, Duekoue, Guiglo and Toulepleu). Preliminary results indicate that in most villages the education sector is in an alarming state: school buildings are dilapidated, teachers have not returned to their duty stations and teaching materials remain unavailable. In most of the visited sites less than half of the educational facilities visited were in an acceptable condition and capable of receiving students. All the health centres lacked resources and equipment, while in Bloléquin, Didiévi and Tié N'diékro the health centers remain closed. There is a serious problem regarding the provision of clean water. In all the areas visited, apart from Duékoué over half of the water pumps were out of order. Regarding food security particular attention was brought to the villages situated between Guiglo and Toulepleu.

OCHA Abidjan participated in the Government-led multi-sectoral assessment mission on the impact of the war in Grabo (South-Western CDI). The current situation in Grabo is of great humanitarian concern. Aid is required for all areas, health, food, water, education, infrastructure etc. Particularly the problem of access to the Grabo area was highlighted, the roads are in an extremely poor state, and some villages are completely cut off from the outside. This has serious consequences for the communities' livelihood - both economic and social. Local administration have difficulty mobilising resources to such areas, access to markets is difficult, transporting goods and people is arduous, humanitarian aid cannot be brought through and children have a long walk to school.

Another great concern is that of rebuilding a cohesive society. Today the community is split and scared by the conflict. Reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire will not be brought about easily and will require the assistance of external actors, who can help this process along.

A separate sector group for Water and Sanitation has been established, UNICEF have proposed to chair the group and the first meeting was held on Friday the 20th February at UNICEF. The objectives of this group include coordinating interventions within this sector, formulating strategies and identifying priority areas for programmes.

3.2 Population Movements (refugees, IDPs, returnees)

Following many months of discussion the National Institute of Statistics will commence a survey to identify the victims of the war. Currently the only reliable figures available come from humanitarian aid organisations, which have registered IDPs and refugees in connection with their operations targeting these populations. The Ministry's objective of gathering information on all the victims of the war will entail a clear definition of who may be considers a victim. So far efforts have concentrated on listing the internally displaced.

In 2003 the United States offered 9,000 Liberian refugees the possibility to immigrate to the United States, on the 21st February UNHCR sent the last convoy of refugees from Tabou to Abidjan for the interview process. Since June 2003 More than 5000 refugees have been accepted for the immigration programme and over 2400 have already left for the U.S. More than 4000 are waiting for a decision in Abidjan.

In Guiglo, SAARA and UNHCR have registered 276 new arrivals from Liberia. SAARA, Guiglo will also take charge of the refugees currently residing in the area of Blolequin and Toulepleu. In response to evaluations from a mission to Bin Houye and Zouan Hounien from 25th-29th January, food aid was distributed to 6792 refugees, 809 households.

In Tabou the number of refuges at the UNHCR transit centre has now reached 3522 persons. In January an evaluation mission was conducted to review the health and sanitary structures following a donation of material and medical equipment to the hospital of Tabou.

3.3 Protection/ Human Rights

OCHA sub-office in Guiglo, accompanied M. Doudou Diene Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, on his visit to Guiglo, Duékoue and Gagnoa from 16th-17th February. The main conclusions from this visit was that the ethnic conflict in Côte d'Ivoire is rooted in the conflict of property rights, a problem that has yet to be resolved. He recommended that a reconciliation programme be designed with local authorities to re-establish social cohesion in the every tense and fraught part of western CDI. In Gagnoa the decision was taken to create a local reconciliation committee, chaired by the chief of the village, which would include female representatives, youths and elders and representatives of all the village communities.

The protection sector group have prepared a strategy for the return of IDPs to Sakassou, South-west of Bouaké. The fundamental areas to be considered are: prevention and rehabilitation. The group have emphasised the importance of ensuring a safe and secure environment for their return as well as providing the assurance that any harassment of violations of the individuals rights can be reported and that actions will be taken. Providing basic support in terms of food and medical assistance is also a prerequisite for their return.

3.4 Food Aid/ Food Security/ Agriculture

WFP reports that smallholder cash crop producers are experiencing a loss of important source of income due to the lack of free mobility between and within government and FN zones. In many areas farmers complain about a lack of access to markets for their cash crops.1 Regular traders are discouraged by excessive costs and harassment and farmers are left with unsold production. Opportunistic businessmen who can afford to deal with roadblocks are taking advantage of the situation as farmers are forced to sell their produces at next to nothing.2 The price of coffee and cocoa has dropped so much that farmers in Bin-Houye are selling their harvest at 200Fcfa/kg in comparison to more than 350 Fcfa before.

The situation in the eastern region of Bouna remains uncertain. This prefecture, one of the poorest of the country, was severely hit by the crisis as farmers were unable to face the decline in Yam production and sale and they are as a result loosing their main source of income. Today only WFP operates in the far eastern part of Côte d'Ivoire, a part that has been neglected together with the North in favour of the Western part of Côte d'Ivoire, where the humanitarian organisations are well represented.

Under its emergency programme for 2004, EMOP 10244.1, WFP estimates 45,000 households (225,000 persons) could greatly benefit from assistance through "food for work". Within this framework WFP is working together with FAO to implement an emergency agriculture project with the goal of reactivating and reinforcing agricultural activities. Some 12,000 households of IDPs, returnees and host communities in the districts of Korhogo, Man, Danane, Zouan-Hounien, Bin Houyé, Duékoué, Toulepleu, Tabou and Grabo will benefit from seeds and tools distributions. WFP will provide food rations in all areas so that farmers do not use the seeds for own consumption, and will integrate FAO resources for seeds and tools by covering the area of Tabou in the southwest. In addition to food for work, WFP will continue to assist IDPs living in camps and refugees in camps. These include the many IDPs who fled to Guiglo (7000 IDPs) and the Liberian refugees living in Guiglo, Tabou and Abidjan (total of 13,000 refugees).

An important component of WFPs assistance for 2004 is ensuring school feeding in primary schools working together with the Ministry of Education, NGO "Ecole pour tous" and other voluntary initiatives where local administration have not yet returned. WFP plans to reach a total of 345,000 primary students throughout the country, 265,000 of these will be assisted in the government controlled south, only 80,000 children will be assisted in the north.

In Agboville, commune de Rubino; 17 new school canteens will be established in collaboration with the local NGO EDS-CI (Echo, développement, strategie en Côte d'Ivoire). Bringing the total number of schools with canteens to 51, representing 98% of the schools in Rubino, which is far greater than the national level of 48%.

OCHA reported from a mission in Gagnoa on the 17th February that around 200 displaced Burkinabé have not received any humanitarian assistance since they were forced to leave their village Pissekou in November 2003, WFP have conducted a preliminary evaluation of the situation in Gagnao and will review the problem.

3.5 Health incl. HIV/AIDS and Water & Sanitation

The Ministry of health and population have published their monthly epidemiological bulletin. In comparison to January 2003, there has been a significant fall in the number of registered cases of measles and cholera It should however be noted that the bulletin only covers the government controlled zone, leaving out 40% of the country, there is still a serious lack of health services in the FN controlled zones, which undoubtedly has had an impact on the population. Random reports from NGOs and UN agencies indicate that there is reason for concern. Some agencies have started targeting this zone, which has been neglected since the beginning of the crisis. UNICEF have commenced the third stage of their vaccination campaign against measles in the north-northwest of the country.

One case of Polio was reported near Duékoué, the case was detected in a girl aged 20 months, who had not received the polio vaccine. The ministry with WHO, UNICEF and Rotary international launched a national polio vaccination campaign, from the 23rd to the 26th February that targeted the whole country to circumvent an epidemic. There has not been a national immunisation campaign for Polio since 2001. As numerous cases have been detected in the Sub-Saharan region and recently one case in CDI there was an urgent need for this campaign.

According to the local NGO RSB, 3,217 children in Yamoussoukro have been vaccinated against meningitis. This campaign was initiated to eradicate the possibility of an epidemic that typically occurs during dry season between December and February. As part of the PEV (Programme Elargi de Vaccination) some have also been vaccinated against measles.

News from Mie N'gou continues to bring attention to the urgent lack of medicine and the problem of food security. Since December Mie N'gou have complained and pleaded for their humanitarian needs to be addressed. UNICEF provided the centre with non-food aid in December, however these stocks are now depleted. There is still a serious lack of medical supplies. An AIDS patient at the centre requires immediate medical attention, which the centre is unable to provide, OCHA have called upon WHO and UNAIDS for their support. WFP distributed 50,67 tons of food aid in Yamoussoukro between 10-16 February, benefiting 1752 people from the whole area including Mie N=B4Gou, however as there are currently 494 people staying at Mie N'Gou there is not enough to go around, also it has been reported that the IDPs sell or exchange some of the rice for other food items -condiments and vegetables. Local administration are urging IDPs to leave the centre as it was originally training centre for physically handicapped, who needs today are being neglected. Currently it is however not feasible for the IDPs to leave, as their areas of residence remain insecure and no other durable solution has been found.

3.6 Education

In Yamoussoukro the Chairman for the committee of the displaced from Dougunou Kouadiokro (situated 4km from Yamoussoukro towards Bouafle) has brought to attention that a number IDP children in primary school have been expelled due to the lack of payment of school fees. Many IDPs have been cut off from their source of revenue and are completely dependent on the goodwill and support of the host communities and humanitarian agencies. Efforts must be made to ensure that these children may return to the schools, particularly as many already have suffered from a disrupted education.

On the 18th February in Abidjan a group of displaced students from Tiébissou, situated between Yamoussoukro and Bouaké, received collage support donations. The department of Tiébissou was one of the localities that has experienced violent confrontations sine the start of the crisis 19th September 2002. The department of Tiébissou has ensured that their displaced have been registered in Abidjan and that they receive support. Since the crisis, 1882 have been registered, of which 213 are students and school children.

4. RESOURCE MOBILISATION

The European Union has announced that they will allocate a sum of around 30million euros to finance an emergency programme for post-crisis rehabilitation assistance for Côte d'Ivoire in 2004. 12,5 million euros will be mobilised to provide institutional support to the Marcoussis process, and national reconciliation. 15 million euros will be mobilised for humanitarian support. The humanitarian support will target three areas; 1) Support to the reinsertion of populations, facilitating a rapid economic and social reintegration of affected populations incl. internally displaced; 2) Rehabilitation of infrastructure, restoration of buildings facilitating a minimum of public service; 3) Medical supplies for health centres, with the aim to assure a minimum supply of medicine and equipment to zones severely affected by the crisis, primarily the West and Northern regions.

The World Bank is in the process of organising a multi-sector evaluation mission in collaboration with other institutions and with the participation of donors. The World Bank have identified five main groups, which are to cover; 1) Macro economic questions (public expenses, debt, disbursements, financial management etc.); 2) the social sector (education, health, AIDS, protection etc.); 3) Rural development (agriculture and environment); and 5) Cross-cutting themes (institutional capacities, governance, administration, community development, local institutions, gender and youth issues).

Japan have through the "fonds de contrepartie ivorio- japonais" donated 940 million 550 thousand FCFA for school canteens in Côte d'Ivoire, which will be mobilised by UNDP. This project is expected to increase the level of school attendance and improve the level of nutrition among children. The programme will also create economic opportunities for women, who will be given the task of producing and preparing the food for the schools.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact:

Ms. Besida Tonwe, Head of Office
e-mail: besida@ocha.ci

Ms. Carina Maard, Public Information Officer
e-mail: carina@ocha.ci
tel. +225-2240-5175

Footnotes:

1 A problem that was also observed by OCHA in Grabo

2 This is also a reason for the ethnic disputes in the Northern part of Côte d'Ivoire where the Senoufou feel they are being cheated by the Malinké.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.