"Liberian militias were running rampant and drugged kids with guns were committing every kind of atrocity possible," said Carolyn McAskie, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, told a press conference in Geneva.
The "no-go" areas in the west are inaccessible even to the UN's traditional partners, such as the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and Doctors without Borders, according to Ms. McAskie. The health situation was deteriorating rapidly and communicable diseases, particularly yellow fever, meningitis and cholera, were on the rise. The anti-polio campaign had ground to a halt.
Ms. McAskie said she would report to the Secretary-General, mainly on the humanitarian situation but would also make recommendations in other areas due to the complexity of the regional humanitarian, economic and political crisis. She added that keeping Côte d'Ivoire stable was "critical" for the stability of the region, which would suffer "disastrous" economic and political consequences should the country fall.
The humanitarian envoy said the fact that the peace accord was holding was a credit to the international community and the West African States. She also commended the press for the coverage they had given the Côte d'Ivoire crisis and its regional implications.
Along with Côte d'Ivoire, Ms. McAskie visited Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali and Guinea.