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Côte d'Ivoire: Red Cross maintains all-important links between north and south

28-11-2002 News Release 02/48

In the districts hit by the current conflict in Côte d'Ivoire, many services vital to the population's survival no longer function properly.

In addition, many families are made anxious by lack of news from relatives on the other side of the front lines. As a neutral intermediary between the parties to the conflict, the ICRC is striving to meet the most urgent needs of the people directly affected.

Thanks to the system of Red Cross messages (containing personal news) set up by the ICRC in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire, some 700 families living in the south of the country have received information on their loved ones living in rebel-held territory or held in detention. Four children separated from their family as they fled the fighting were reunited with their parents after their photographs were shown on the national television network.

The ICRC's deliveries of chemicals and spare parts from the south of the country to water-treatment and electricity-generating plants located north of the front lines have made it possible to meet the civilian population's needs in terms of drinking water and electrical power.

Following an agreement with the Ministry of Health in Abidjan, more than 30 health-care facilities, including 25 dispensaries, general hospitals and maternity hospitals in rebel-held territory, are being regularly provided with medical supplies by the Red Cross, which is also giving food to medical staff to encourage them to stay put.

Aid provided by the Red Cross always follows an impartial assessment of needs carried out by its representatives on the spot. Red Cross personnel cross the front lines without armed escorts, relying on the emblem alone for protection. The warring parties are notified of its convoys, which they monito r. Since the beginning of the crisis, they have facilitated Red Cross access to the victims.

A short film (three minutes and 12 seconds long, in English or French) shot by the ICRC in Bouaké in September and October is available from the ICRC media unit (   ).

    

 Further information: Simon Plüss, ICRC Abidjan, tel. ++225 224 000 70