Côte d'Ivoire + 1 more

Ivory Coast crisis displaces a million people

News and Press Release
Originally published

Vast numbers of civilians in Ivory Coast are on the move as incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo faces military defeat.

Forces controlled by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara have rapidly swept south over the last week and are now attacking the presidential palace in Abidjan where Mr Gbagbo is cornered.

Amid the fighting – caused by a disputed presidential election last November - the UN says one million people have been displaced, creating massive humanitarian needs.

Agencies involved in medical work are reporting an alarming caseload of people needing treatment for gunshot and machete wounds.

Well over 100,000 Ivorians have now fled into neighbouring Liberia, putting increased strain on border communities that are ill-equipped to deal with such an influx.

Tearfund partner Equip is supporting 40,000 refugees in Liberia's Nimba County by offering healthcare, which includes screening children for signs of malnutrition and treating diseases such as malaria.

Of the refugees registered, 60 per cent are under the age of 18 and 54 per cent are female. Most are living with host communities in overcrowded conditions without adequate access to food, water and sanitation.

Among those who have fled there is Karyonoun Kagnivum, from Toulepleu District.

Such was the rush to flee the fierce fighting, she wasn't able to take anything out of her house. To make matters worse, she has been separated from her children.

Another woman, called Clalici, told Tearfund staff how she too had been separated from members of her family and how she was worried about the safety of her son.

Back in Ivory Coast, large scale fighting in the western city of Duékoué led to reports of hundreds of people being killed, many of them by machetes.

A consortium of six Tearfund partners has been responding to the crisis in Duékoué by supporting 24,800 internally displaced people through water and sanitation activities.

However the rapid deterioration of security in Duékoué has forced our partners to cease their activities temporarily until it is safe to resume them.