As fighting and political instability has continued to increase in Cote d'Ivoire, the number of refugees fleeing to Liberia has grown to over 100,000. The UN estimates that this number could increase to 250,000 to 500,000 by the end of June. The majority of these registered refugees are women and children.
Among the first agencies to respond to the crisis, CARE has been distributing emergency supplies such as hygiene kits. 70 percent of these kits have gone to families headed by women.
CARE has also been running hygiene promotion sessions and repairing disused wells to deal with the influx of new people.
The roads in the region are in bad shape, and there are fears that it will become even more challenging to reach displaced people when the rainy season starts – this means that distributing supplies is particularly urgent.
The number of refugees who are women and children raises concerns about their vulnerability to sexual violence. CARE is calling for more attention and funding to prevent sexual violence as part of the emergency response.
"There is a growing realisation in the international aid community that measures to prevent and respond to sexual violence are necessary, but we need to be reminded that these measures must be part of the very first emergency response. The risk of sexual violence and exploitation needs to be taken into account in all emergency interventions," asserts CARE Liberia's country director, Hubert Charles.
CARE is actively working to promote better prevention and response to sexual violence. Examples include ensuring that distributions are conducted early in the day, so that women have time to return to their shelter before dark. All sanitary installations must also be well lit.