Côte d'Ivoire

Ivory Coast: The displaced populations' humanitarian drama

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Paris, February 21st, 2003 - SOLIDARITIES, an international aid organization whose humanitarian interventions span over 20 years, has sent an emergency evaluation team to Ivory Coast in view of the current situation. During the evaluation, our team has witnessed a dramatic humanitarian situation.
In the Southwest of the country, near the towns of Guiglo and Duékoué, around 85.000 people have fled military confrontation, rape, pillaging, summary executions and exactions. Some have travelled on foot by night for several weeks. But once over the cease-fire line, they discovered only famine and over-crowding. Indeed, despite the efforts of various organisations, humanitarian assistance is not yet in place. Accommodation and hygiene conditions in the overpopulated villages situated on the fringe of combat zones in the West of the country are deplorable. Displaced civilians, who are still arriving, have only found refuge around state buildings and religious sanctuaries, where makeshift camps have formed.

In Duekoué, around 33,000 people have sought refuge. SOLIDARITES' team have observed that these refugees have nothing, no food, no mats to sleep on, no plastic sheeting to protect themselves from the fast-approaching rainy season, no hygiene products, no latrines, and no jerry-cans to fetch water which only arrives periodically . . . In Duekoué city hall, our team met a woman, prostrate on the floor, who managed to escape from the place where she was held with her daughters for twelve days, as well as another man who had just come out of the bush, haggard, exhausted and ill, having lost 15 kilos . . . We have already identified several cases of serious malnutrition.

In Guiglo, where over 8,400 people have taken refuge by camping near the city hall, the prefecture, the bus station or even in churches, a measles epidemic has broken out and has already taken 14 lives. A tuberculosis epidemic has also appeared, and we fear that malaria, yellow fever and typhoid, the regional endemic diseases, will follow, decimating those displaced persons who are particularly weak. Another concern is cholera, which lies in wait and could cause terrible losses, as well as the rainy season, which arrives at the end of the month, and which will make the situation even worse.

SOLIDARITES, in response to this dramatic humanitarian situation, is fully mobilized to bring emergency aid to these men, women and children as quickly as possible. We are launching an appeal to the general public to help us raise the funds we most urgently need to assist them.

Press contacts :

Alain Boinet, Director - Sébastien le Clezio, Communication Manager - 01 43 15 13 13

To find out more about SOLIDARITES, please visit our website : http://www.solidarites.org

To support SOLIDARITES' emergency humanitarian action in Afghanistan
Please send your donations to : SOLIDARITES - BP 100 75020 Paris, or to SOLIDARITES, Villa Souchet - 105 Avenue Gambetta 75020 Paris