IOM staff in the western Ivoirian town of Duékoué have completed the registration of more than 27,500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have sought refuge in and around the Salesian Roman Catholic mission.
The registration, which began April 3rd, was carried in coordination with UNHCR, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the NGO Caritas. It points to major humanitarian needs among vulnerable women and children, who represent a majority of the displaced.
Despite the daily delivery and storage of some 9,000 litres of water by the UN contingent and the distribution of water purification tablets, access to adequate clean water remains a priority, as many wells are contaminated and represent a health hazard.
Food distributions organized by the World Food Programme are currently targeting the most vulnerable among the displaced, including children, pregnant and lactating women.
Non-food aid, including medical supplies, malaria kits, shelter items, cooking sets, jerry cans, sleeping mats, soap and blankets are being supplied by UNHCR to the displaced in the Catholic mission and in a nearby Protestant church.
IOM staff on the ground report that access to sanitation facilities remains insufficient. The Roman Catholic mission currently has only 12 latrines.
Efforts to identify new safe sites where the displaced could be relocated are on-going with a view to reduce the health risks linked to living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. In parallel, IOM is working with Caritas, local NGOs and community leaders to raise awareness of public hygiene, with an emphasis on proper hand washing.
IOM is also following population displacement on the Duekoué, Guiglo, Toulepleu road, where thousands of people are said to be still hiding in the forest. More than 800 IDPs were relocated earlier this week from Péhé to the border town of Zouan Hounien, where they are now receiving humanitarian aid.
In the economic capital Abidjan, there is no news of some 3,000 Malian migrants, including many women and children, who have been living for the past two weeks without running water or electricity in the basement and other rooms of the Malian Embassy.
Reports earlier this week suggested that many of the stranded migrants had sustained bullet and machete wounds from attacks carried out by armed youth militias loyal to the incumbent president Gbagbo.
IOM is also concerned about a group of some 450 Mauritanians who have sought refuge in their embassy in Abidjan.
"Our calls to the warring parties to give humanitarians full access to the population and allow the safe evacuation of all migrant workers has so far fallen on deaf ears," says IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. "We once again urge all parties not to target civilians and migrant workers and to ensure their protection and safety."
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 IDPs, 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 a forthcoming revised joint appeal for Cote d'Ivoire.
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