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At least 300,000 civilians still displaced in Ivory Coast

© UNHCR/S.Momodu

A clearer picture is now emerging of the displacement situation in Ivory Coast, two months after the resolution of the post-election crisis. Over the past three weeks, UNHCR and partners have registered 322,277 internally displaced people (IDPs) across the country and registration is ongoing.

These displaced people are being sheltered in IDP sites or with host families. Most are concentrated in the west (132,188), the north (62,676) and Abidjan (55,912). There are reports that still more are hiding in the bush. Return conditions have improved in some of the areas that were worst affected by fighting. For example, in western Ivory Coast’s Zouan-Hounien and Teapleu areas, local communities are reporting significant improvements in the security situation.

By contrast, communal tensions are still high in the south-western Sassandra region. This was where more than 280 civilians were killed in early May by groups of mercenaries on the run from Abidjan. Many of the dead are buried in mass graves. Over 500 houses were also destroyed. An estimated 17,000 people are displaced in that region, including an unknown number reportedly still hiding in the forest. 

Some of the IDPs are accused of having supported the mercenaries. The continued presence of armed vigilantes is preventing the return of these displaced communities. New clusters of displaced people are being found as UNHCR continues assessment visits around the country. UNHCR is delivering food and basic relief supplies to these new IDPs while continuing to support existing IDP sites and host families. At the same time, new IDP camps are being constructed to better assist and accommodate those unable to go back home for the time being.

There are still more than 200,000 Ivorian refugees hosted in several West African countries.