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Humanitarian situation in Ivory Coast remains alarming

© UNHCR/B.Kouame

There are still an estimated 200,000 IDPs in western Ivory Coast. Another 177,500 Ivorians are registered as refugees in 13 West African nations, including nearly 160,000 in Liberia.

UNHCR field teams report that the humanitarian situation in Ivory Coast remains dire for tens of thousands of civilians despite improved overall security since the fighting ended on 11 April. A main concern is the large number of armed checkpoints intimidating people who want to return to their places of origin. UNHCR urges the new Ivorian government to reduce these checkpoints and re-establish the presence of local authorities.

In north-west and central west Ivory Coast, UNHCR teams have reached thousands of people who were forced out of their homes between the end of March and early April. They visited the displaced in at least 15 locations and found that virtually all were living with host families who are themselves running out of resources and living on a single meal per day.

Most people say they want to return to their places of origin as soon as possible. However, in many cases homes and villages have been either partially or totally destroyed, and people are traumatized. In some town areas residents go into hiding at night time.

In the western Ivory Coast town of Duékoué, humanitarian conditions are slowly improving with the return of aid agencies. UNHCR has 30 staff members in the region who have assisted 68,000 people with shelter materials and household goods. The Catholic Church compound which provides sanctuary remains overcrowded with some 27,000 internally displaced people. Around 650 IDP families at the church have signed up for immediate return to their homes in and around the city.