Côte d'Ivoire

Registration of and Assistance to Displaced Persons Begins in Western Cote d'Ivoire, Conditions for Stranded Migrants Further Deteriorates in Abidjan

News and Press Release
Originally published

IOM has deployed staff in the western Ivoirian town of Duékoué to help register and assist up to 25,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have sought refuge in and around a Catholic mission and who are in dire need of food, water, shelter, medical and sanitation assistance.

The registration, which is carried out in coordination with the UNHCR, World Food Programme and Caritas aims to identify those most in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, including vulnerable and traumatized women and children who have escaped last week's killings in the Carrefour district of Duékoué.

Distributions of food rations and non food assistance, including medical supplies, malaria kits, shelter, cooking sets, jerrycans, sleeping mats, soap and blankets are scheduled to begin later today in and around the Catholic mission and in a nearby Protestant church, which shelters up to 1,500 displaced persons.

In an effort to reduce overcrowding in the mission and church, IOM is working with the local authorities and humanitarian partners to identify new safe sites for the displaced. Relocation to those sites would reduce the health risks linked to current overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, which has lead to an outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases and skin infections among the displaced.

IOM is teaming up with Caritas, local NGOs and community leaders to raise awareness of public hygiene among the displaced.

The Organization has also learnt that some 400 people who had fled Duékoué last week have found refugee in another Catholic mission located in the town of Zouan Hounien, which is located close to the Liberian border.

They were part of a much large group of some 4,000 displaced persons on their way to the nearby town of Guiglo, where displaced persons continue to arrive to escape threats of violence and retaliation.

Meanwhile, IOM has received a desperate request for assistance from a group of some 3,000 Malian migrants, including many women and children, who have been living for the past ten days in the basement and the halls of the Malian Embassy in Abidjan.

Many have sustained bullet and machete wounds from attacks carried out by armed youth militias loyal to the incumbent president Gbagbo. Without running water for the past 72 hours, they say they dare not walk to the nearby lagoon for fear of further violence.

IOM has also received calls for help from a group of some 450 Mauritanians who have found refuge in their embassy and wish to be repatriated. IOM remains unable to evacuate them because of on-going fighting in Abidjan.

"We urge warring parties in Cote d'Ivoire not to target civilians and migrant workers and to ensure their protection and safety," says IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. "We exhort them to give humanitarians full access to the population and allow the safe evacuation of all migrant workers who wish to return home."

IOM has been asked to evacuate more than 50,000 stranded migrants from Cote d'Ivoire to Mauritania, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali.

In January, IOM appealed for an initial USD 3.5 million to carry out a range of operations including assisting the internally displaced persons, third country nationals and stranded migrants in Cote d'Ivoire.

To date, the Organization has received US$ 1.06 million from the US government and the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund. IOM's funding needs will be revised as part of the forthcoming revised appeal for Cote d'Ivoire.

For further information, please contact Jean-Philippe Chauzy at IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9361/+41 79 285 43 66 Email: pchauzy@iom.int Copyright © IOM. All rights reserved.