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Mark South: MSouth@redcross.org.uk, 0207 877 7042 or out of hours 07659 145095
The humanitarian crisis around Ivory Coast is far from over, despite the toppling of former president Laurent Gbagbo, the British Red Cross is warning.
Around 1million people are estimated to have been forced from their homes, with more than 100,000 seeking safety across the border in neighbouring Liberia, doubling the population of villages and placing a huge strain on resources.
Speaking from the Liberian border with Ivory Coast, David Peppiatt, head of international with the British Red Cross, said: “Developments in Abidjan mean little for people here who are still struggling for the very basic essentials of life.
“Because of the increased numbers of people, wells are running dry and food is becoming scarce.
“On top of this we are seeing outbreaks of diarrhoea, which is extremely dangerous, particularly amongst children already weakened by hunger.
“The situation in Ivory Coast remains precarious and many of the people I have spoken to experienced terrifying violence as they fled. “Despite the desperate humanitarian situation, people still feel they are safer here than returning home. For these people, the crisis is far from over and more help is needed”
It is estimated that around 60% of the refugees are children, and many of those who fled across the border spent weeks hiding in the forest before emerging into Liberia.
The Red Cross is working to help 100,000 refugees in Liberia, providing water, sanitation, emergency relief and helping to trace family members. Seeds and tools will also be distributed to help provide food for the increased populations along the border.
The British Red Cross has already released £500,000 in emergency funds, but more is needed and the society has launched an appeal for the region www.redcross.org.uk/ivorycoastcrisis.
“Liberian communities along the border want to support the Ivorians – many Liberians were taken in by families in Ivory Coast when they fled violence in their own country – but without support from the international community the situation will only get worse,” added Peppiatt.
ENDS Notes to editors
David Peppiatt, head of international for British Red Cross, is in Liberia and available for interview.
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