- BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION FOR EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE
1.1 Background – The Humanitarian Crisis at the Liberia-Cote d’Ivoire Border
1.1.1 In the West African country of Cote d’Ivoire, a political deadlock following last year’s Presidential elections has pushed the country into an internal conflict, resulting in hundreds of casualties and a mass exodus of people fleeing the violence and bloodshed. Cote d’Ivoire has been in turmoil since the second round of Presidential elections of 28 November 2010, with supporters of incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and internationally accepted winner of the polls Alassane Ouattara clashing and violence spreading throughout the country. A majority of the people are fleeing into eastern and south-eastern Liberia, which shares a border with Cote d’Ivoire.
1.1.2 The population movements, which started immediately after the elections, ranged between 100-150 people per day. However, following a sudden upsurge in fighting in Cote d’Ivoire on 24 February 2011, the number of civilians fleeing into Liberia has seen an alarming increase, with more than 53,000 people crossing over in a matter of days. The influx added to the existing registered refugee caseload of almost 40,000 people prior to 24 February. According to the latest available UNHCR data of 27 March 2011, the total number of refugees stood at more than 111,000 people. This is putting a severe strain on the host communities in Nimba, Grand-Gedeh and other remote, hard-to-access counties located along the border in Liberia, where the local population already lives below the poverty line, suffering from neglect by the State and under-developed infrastructure weakened by many years of civil war (see annex 1 for a map of the affected area as well as details on the number of refugees and their spatial distribution).
1.1.3 The international humanitarian community is expecting a total of 150,000 refugees by the end of June 2011 in need for emergency assistance. Critical needs include food, health care services, shelter, registration, water and sanitation/hygiene, as the refugee influx is putting a massive burden on the already depleted facilities and services along the border. It is also essential to improve the poor infrastructure in these areas such as dilapidated access roads and bridges, to ensure the timely and uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian emergency aid. However, humanitarian agencies overall in Liberia are struggling with limited resources and capacity available because funding has been so limited. US$ 35 million in funding has been received or committed to date, leaving US$ 111 million still required (chapter 2 below provides details on the requirements and funding of the Liberia Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan, EHAP, 2011). The support of the international community is therefore imperative to meet the immediate, essential protection and assistance needs of refugees, many of whom have already experienced difficult conditions in their country of origin.