Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 11 October 2011 – In a joint report published today, the international humanitarian organizations, Oxfam, Danish refugee Council (DRC) and Care, warn that a humanitarian crisis of significant proportions remains six months after the resolution of the political stand-off in the country. Drawing on consultations with displaced people and returnees and field research conducted over the past months in the west of Côte d’Ivoire, the joint report “Towards Durable Solutions for Displaced Ivoirians” reveals that conditions for sustainable returns have not yet been realised and that unmet humanitarian and protection needs are threatening efforts to ensure peace, reconciliation and the ability of people to return home and rebuild their lives.
“The situation is still highly precarious and people affected by the conflict, particularly in the west of the country, still have specific assistance and protection needs”, said Oxfam’s Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for West Africa, Philippe Conraud. “Everyone need to work together to ensure a much greater response that offers durable solutions to displaced Ivoirians, enabling them to rebuild their lives and prevent further violence and displacement.”
To date, an estimated 500,000 people have returned to their place of origin since the end of the conflict in April, while approximately 450,000 Ivoirians remain displaced inside Côte d’Ivoire and in neighbouring countries. Yet despite this continued need for large-scale humanitarian support, the UN’s international emergency appeal remains just 29% funded.
The report shows that significant humanitarian needs remain. Amongst those interviewed, food is the overwhelming priority, with 77% of returnees and 83% of displaced people saying they do not have enough to eat. Shelter is another major challenge hindering sustainable returns. Half the displaced people who expressed their intention not to return cited the destruction of their house as the main reason. Security fears and a lack of means to pay for transport were also commonly cited.
“Food, shelter and support to rebuild lost livelihoods are pressing needs that should be prioritized to give people the support they need to return home, rebuild their lives and live in peace”, said the Director of Care in Côte d’Ivoire, Steve Wallace.
The report outlines how those who have returned to their place of origin have been encouraged by a general improvement of security, but also driven by the lack of access to land, food and income-generating activities on displacement sites. They have often done so in very precarious conditions, without the support required to ensure that return is a durable solution and – like those who remain displaced in camps or host families –they remain highly dependent on aid to restore their livelihoods. Of those interviewed for the report, 58% of returnees and 82% of displaced people had completely lost their source of income.
Security concerns also remain for many Ivoirians, hindering a return to normality, while the report highlights a need to strengthen access to justice mechanisms, with just 28% of those interviewed being aware of the recently launched Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“The west of Côte d’Ivoire is struggling with the effects of the post-electoral crisis and will need sustained support for some time to come”, said DRC Regional Director for West Africa, Gilles Ponserre. “As well as providing greater humanitarian help to those affected by conflict, more needs to be done to improve security and access to justice across the region to enable peace and reconciliation”
Based on the priorities identified through consultations with displaced people and returnees, the report by Oxfam, DRC and Care makes specific recommendations to ensure the implementation of a sustainable returns policy for those affected by conflict, the rapid re-establishment of the rule of law, support to reconciliation efforts and enhanced humanitarian assistance – particularly focusing on food, shelter and livelihoods – backed by greater funding.