Côte d'Ivoire

Humanitarian situation deteriorates as conflict in Ivory Coast intensifies

Geneva, 9 January 2003 - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International continues to assist people fleeing the conflict in Ivory Coast and crossing the border into Guinea.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), clashes in the western part of Ivory Coast and recent violations of the cease-fire in the north have forced an estimated 400,000 persons in the central and northern regions to flee south.

As there is no implementing ACT member in the Ivory Coast, LWF/ACT has been concentrating its efforts in Guinea. In December 2002, more than 3600 beneficiaries were assisted by LWF/ACT. Blankets, soap and health kits have been distributed to all new arrivals from the Ivory Coast who were transferred by UNHCR to Lainé and Nonah camps in Guinea.

Elke Leidel, LWF Guinea Program Coordinator reports that "the average number of arrivals per week is decreasing," noting that from 2-27 December 2002, 3575 refugees were registered by the UNHCR at the border entry points into Guinea.

Ivorain refugees are transferred to Nonah transit camp, which as of 30 December 2002, had registered 2100 people. Liberians are sheltered in Lainé camp, which is currently hosting about 7500 refugees.

An assessment team under the LWF/ACT Mental Health and Trauma Healing Program in Guinea observed that incoming refugees from the Ivory Coast have experienced psychological and social trauma which need to be addressed. An emergency counselling service will be established at transit camp level for that purpose.

OCHA stresses that the key humanitarian needs in Ivory Coast are currently in the health sector. Medicines, medical equipment and the retention of medical staff in and around the war zones remain in a critical state despite the efforts of medical organisations. Hospitals in rebel-held areas are depleted of supplies and staff. Food aid is needed in cities such as Bouakè and for displaced persons on the move in Daloa and Deukoue and Yamoussoukro.

For further information please contact:

ACT Communications Officers Callie Long (mobile/cell phone +41 79 358 3171)
Or ACT Press Officer Diana Mavunduse (mobile/cell phone + 41 79 681 1868).

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org

=A0ACT is a world-wide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated=A0 emergency=A0 response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)=A0 in Switzerland.