This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson at today's Palais des Nations press briefing in Geneva. Further information can be found on the UNHCR websites, www.unhcr.org and www.unhcr.fr, which should also be checked for regular media updates on non-briefing days.
UNHCR is today starting a simultaneous airlift and road convoy to Cote d'Ivoire to pre-position aid ahead of distribution to the growing displaced population in the country's west. A UNHCR-chartered Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 747 cargo plane is scheduled to take off from Liege in Belgium at midday today carrying 2,450 tents from our emergency stockpile in Copenhagen. At the same time 93 tons of relief is due to be trucked from Accra in Ghana.
All items will initially be stored in a UNHCR warehouse in the north of Abidjan. Meanwhile, the race is on in western Cote d'Ivoire to meet the shelter and other needs of the internally displaced (IDPs). As soon as this is done the aid distribution will start. The tents will provide shelter for up to 12,000 people, while the road convoy is bringing thousands of blankets, mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and other basics.
Our teams in western Cote d'Ivoire have so far registered close to 31,000 internally displaced people. Most of these are in Duékoué district where some 22,000 people are being hosted in religious missions, spontaneous settlements, and in surrounding villages. We are working together with the authorities to identify a site in the vicinity of Duékoué to establish a camp for these IDPs.
The registration exercise is being carried out by UNHCR together with IOM and UNFPA, and should be completed before the end of the week. It will allow UNHCR and its partners to have a better picture of the number of displaced people and of their profiles so that adequate assistance can be organized.
There are IDPs also in Man, Danané, Binhouye, Zouhanhouin, and Guiglo districts. Most are staying with host families, in schools or churches.
In parallel, an inter agency mission on assessment needs, comprising several UN organizations including UNHCR, as well as of several NGOs operating in the area, discovered new groups of IDPs on Monday in villages along the border with Liberia. These people will be included in our registration exercise, and helped.
Most IDPs in the west of the country were displaced from their homes in early January as a result of ethnic tension and violence following the presidential elections of last November.
In addition to recent internal forced displacement, Cote d'Ivoire is also hosting some 26,000 Liberian refugees. Some of these refugees tell us they feel at risk amid the volatile political situation in Cote d'Ivoire.
For further information on this topic, please contact:
In Abidjan (on mission): Helene Caux on mobile: +44 79 217 3193
In Dakar, Francis Kpatinde on mobile: +221 77 529 8696
In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483