Côte d'Ivoire

Emergency Relief Coordinator saddened by killing of four Red Cross workers in Côte d'Ivoire

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(New York: 20 March) In a statement today, Mr. Kenzo Oshima, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator was saddened to learn of the deaths of four national volunteers while working for the Red Cross Society of Cote d'Ivoire. The bodies of the four workers, who were abducted by armed men near Toulepleu in western Cote d'Ivoire on 12 January, were just found and identified. Mr. Oshima extended his "deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased and to the Ivorian Red Cross as they cope with this terrible loss."
Mr. Oshima said that the confirmation of the deaths of the aid workers highlighted the dramatic situation in the western town of Toulepleu, "where thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) cannot be provided with basic assistance due to the extremely unsafe environment and the lack of protection for humanitarian personnel and goods." The United Nations remains concerned about the condition of internally displaced persons ---of whom there are estimated to be over 600,000---throughout Cote d'Ivoire. The safety of civilians in western Cote d'Ivoire is of particular concern, as the United Nations has received credible reports of shocking violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

In the statement, Mr. Oshima called on all parties to the crisis situation in Cote d'Ivoire to "enforce measures that will guarantee the protection of civilians, including relief workers, regardless of origin." Mr. Oshima added that he hoped that that calls by the United Nations Security Council in this regard would be heeded. The Emergency Relief Coordinator underscored his solidarity with humanitarian personnel who bravely go about their work in bringing aid to those in need in Cote d'Ivoire and around the world.

The humanitarian situation in Cote d'Ivoire is worsening as the impasse in resolving the conflict that erupted in September 2002 there continues. The food security situation remains critical as families, who host the majority of IDPs, are expected to run out of food in many parts of the country within weeks. The spread of communicable diseases is another area of concern, as great numbers of people have been on the move, or are in rebel-controlled areas where public services are no longer functioning, and are therefore without health care.

For further information, please contact:
Abidjan Jeff Brez 225 2240 4442

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