Over the weekend, Carolyn McAskie, the Secretary-General's Humanitarian Envoy for the Crisis in Côte d'Ivoire visited people displaced from their homes when Government Authorities destroyed several shantytowns in Abidjan in the wake of a coup attempt in September 2002, without any alternative housing or compensation having been given.
On Saturday, Ms. McAskie visited sites where some residents currently find temporary shelter in churches, in mosques, under trees or amidstdebris. Others sleep out in the open. Speaking to journalists about what she saw, Ms. McAskie said "To see exactly how these people are living is absolutely shocking. We are talking to the Government and also trying to bring international aid." "Even if the Government must protect itself, it must also protect shantytown dwellers who have lost everything," she said.
Speaking to internally displaced persons she met, she said "We will continue to pressure the Government to stop this destruction and to treat its citizens and foreign guests in a more humane manner." She also told (Liberian ) refugees who had sought shelter there that the UN would work to ensure that they received the protection that was their right in international humanitarian law.
Ms. McAskie also spoke about the ethnic dimension of the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire, which had been a model for social tolerance and economic productivity until a coup attempt on 19 September 2002. "It is not the habit of Ivorians to live in conflict. The fact that Ivorians and many other nationals live here [at a site where IDPs stay in Gobele] in peace is a model for the country. I've seen with my own eyes the difficulties you face, and I will bring your story back to the UN. I promise we will do our best to help you."
The UN estimates that as many as 1 million people have been displaced within Côte d'Ivoire and that more than 120,000 people have fled to neighboring countries since September, 2002. Ms. McAskie, the United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, was named the Secretary-General's Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis on Côte d'Ivoire on 17 December, Later in the week, she will be visiting camps for internally displaced people before she travels on to several neighboring countries affected by the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire.
For further information please contact: Abidjan, Jeff Brez 225 2240 4442
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.