Cote d'Ivoire: more refugees in need of humanitarian aid

10 February, 2011
Newly arrived Ivorian women and children await registration in Luguato. Credit: UNHCR/F Lejeune-Kaba
Newly arrived Ivorian women and children await registration in Luguato. Credit: UNHCR/F Lejeune-Kaba

As of 7 February, UNHCR reports that nearly 33,000 Ivorian refugees have been registered in Liberia. Preliminary results from the recent inter-agency assessment of twenty villages in Liberia show the need to urgently expedite delivery of humanitarian assistance.

According to OCHA situation report No.12, the internal crisis in Côte d’Ivoire has resulted in thousands of Ivorians fleeing to Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin and Niger. Almost 95 per cent of these refugees are now in Liberia, where UNHCR’s second airlift arrived on 30 January equipped with thousands of blankets, mats, kitchen sets, and tarpaulins.

The assessment recognized that neighbouring countries continue to face challenges in providing for refugees. Ivorian refugees in Liberia are living in some of the poorest regions in the country, stretching already scarce resources even thinner.

However, Humanitarian Coordinator for Cote d’Ivoire, Ndolamb Ngokwey, stressed that, “The cost of preventing Côte d’Ivoire from slipping into a humanitarian crisis and affecting its neighbours far outweighs the cost of responding when lives have been lost.”

Humanitarian assistance for the refugees in Liberia has thus far included a UNICEF measles vaccination campaign in Nimba county, provision of therapeutic food for 100 severely malnourished children, and repair of water sources and sanitation facilities. In addition, WFP is planning a six-month emergency food distribution operation for some 50,000 refugees. However, humanitarian actors still face logistical challenges in  reaching refugees, particularly those in host villages with poor road conditions.

Meanwhile, the number of IDPs in Côte d’Ivoire is now estimated to be over 30,000, and humanitarian actors continue to provide them with vital relief, including food, water and sanitation, shelter, health, protection and education.