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Côte d'Ivoire: Aiding villagers in the west

15-09-2003 News Release 03/108

The ICRC has launched a major relief operation in the western part of Côte d'Ivoire where civilians have been directly affected by conflict. Emergency supplies have been delivered to people in almost 160 villages, many of which were partly abandoned at the beginning of the year.

After several months in the bush or with relatives, residents of the villages are heading home to rebuild their houses and resume farming. To facilitate this process, the ICRC has given over 90,000 people soap, plastic sheeting, blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen utensils, buckets, clothing and, in selected villages, tools. Relief efforts have focused on the district of Toulepleu and the sub-prefectures of Zouhan Hounien, Bin Houyé and Taï, which lie along the Liberian border and have been particularly badly hit by looting and destruction. The distribution of aid started on 5 August and is still under way. Rain has made access to some villages difficult, so the programme will continue for the next few weeks.

In most of the villages visited, over half the population has returned and life is returning to normal. To raise the confidence of the population, ICRC technicians accompanied by volunteers from the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire have disinfected 525 wells, from which villagers were afraid to drink because of rumours of contamination.

In parallel with these efforts to help people who are returning home, the ICRC and the National Society are continuing to assist the thousands of displaced persons in Guiglo Camp and the transit centres at Zouhan Hounien and Danané.

Further information:

Monique Nanchen, ICRC Abidjan, tel. ++225 224 000 70

Roland Sidler, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 20 45