Handicap International is working in Abidjan to ensure injured persons in hospitals receive follow-up care. A second team, based in neighbouring Liberia, is providing support to refugee families.
Handicap International has been operating in Abidjan since the beginning of this week, providing emergency rehabilitation care to injured persons in hospitals, following the fighting that has raged for several weeks in the country, particularly in its business capital. A team arrived in the town last Sunday. The association’s task is to intervene in coordination with medical NGOs to ensure the injured receive vital follow-up care, perform any necessary physiotherapy care, and to help them avoid developing permanent disabilities.
Supporting refugees on the Liberian border
“We are in Zwedru, Liberia, close to the border with the Ivory Coast”, explains Cécile Dupré, the assistant head of the emergency team. “Despite developments in Abidjan, we are still seeing refugee families arriving from rural areas, often from the other side of the border. Our assistance has been made all the more important due to the fact that the host families, already extremely poor, find it very difficult to cope with the additional burden.” An initial focal point (DVFP), run by local staff, has been working in the Zwedru sector for several days in aid of the most vulnerable people.
“The people we met were in a very poor state, including isolated women and children who had been separated from their families,” continues Cécile. “Our task is to record them and to evaluate the needs of the weakest persons, in order to provide them with specific aid, in particular walking aids when they find it hard to move around.” Handicap International will also ensure the distribution of emergency packs containing sleeping mats, plastic sheeting for shelter, and cooking equipment. In addition, the association will provide psychosocial support by organising discussion groups to help refugees express the difficult times they have been through. The emergency team is also organising “protection” activities relating to gender based violence. “Prevention is essential in situations like these, in which families have been dispersed, and many women find themselves alone,” explains Cécile. “This means sticking to simple rules, like moving around in groups and carrying a whistle to call for help if they are attacked