Côte d'Ivoire + 3 more

Support to humanitarian operations in the West Africa Coastal region

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Location of operation: Coastal West Africa (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire)
Amount of Decision: EUR 900.000
Decision reference number: ECHO/-WF/BUD/2006/02000

Explanatory Memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population.

1.1. - Rationale:

Internal conflict and consequent spill-over of destabilisation has seriously affected many countries in Coastal West Africa in the past years. More than 3 million people have been displaced both internally and as refugees and the damage to infrastructures including roads and basic services has been massive. Human rights abuses have been rampant and civilians have been at the mercy of brutal Warlords and rebel movements with high incidence of exploitation and rape: gender based violence, widespread use of child soldiers and separation of thousands of children from their families have been particularly nasty components of the West African crises.

After much effort by the international community some hope of a return to peace and stability now exists for part of the region. Of the countries most affected so far, Sierra Leone is now hopefully in a post-conflict consolidation phase after 11 years of civil war ended in 2002. Liberia is about to start its post-conflict reconstruction phase with the recent successful presidential elections 2 years after the signature of the peace agreements in 2003. However Cote d'Ivoire remains in a volatile and fragile state since 2002 with the split of the country in two parts, and with no durable solution for stability so far. Guinea also remains of concern with continued internal political and social tensions and with the consequences of having hosted several hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire.

An aftermath of the conflicts is the breakdown of law and order with the exposure of civilians to harassment and abuse. The situation is even worse along uncontrolled borders between the countries, where the lack of control is leading to trafficking of weapons, natural resources and combatants. Children are highly vulnerable to ongoing recruitment and to separation from their families, while girls and women are victims of sexual abuses. None of the fragile states in the region are in a position to provide proper access to basic services and protection to their populations without strong support of the International Community. Several protection operations are being implemented by humanitarian organizations in each country, but when it comes to children reunification and prevention of recruitments, a regional approach is compulsory.

In 2006, the large scale return operation will continue to assist Liberian refugees and IDPs to go back and reinstall to their places of origin. All areas of return have been severely devastated by the conflict, and returnees are facing very difficult conditions to restart their lives. However the terrible state of the roads and the lack of air transport options are limiting access to the most affected areas, hindering the rehabilitation and reconstruction work of the humanitarian agencies, especially during the long rainy season. An air service is therefore still much needed to support the humanitarian organizations operating in the region, providing them with safe, timely and cost effective transport.

For 2006 DG ECHO has prepared country decisions for Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, but the issue of children protection and of air transport need to be integrated in a regional approach.