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Côte d'Ivoire: Red Cross urges all parties to respect population

17-03-2011 Operational Update

As clashes intensify by the day, the consequences for the population are worsening. The ICRC and the Ivorian Red Cross, which are stepping up their aid for the victims, have issued a new appeal to all those involved in the violence.

See also The internally displaced – so close and yet so far from home

 

"It is essential that all parties respect and protect the population, in particular wounded people, medical personnel and facilities, and vehicles used as ambulances," said Dominique Liengme, head of the ICRC delegation in Abidjan. "Ivorian Red Cross volunteers must be able to provide care without hindrance."

People living in several Abidjan neighbourhoods – Abobo, Yopougon and Adjamé – and in the west of the country are being directly affected by armed clashes. Fearing for their lives, thousands of families have fled their homes without knowing if or when they will be able to return.

In response to a situation which has worsened in humanitarian terms over the past four weeks, the Red Cross has enhanced the activities it is carrying out for vulnerable people in Côte d'Ivoire and for refugees in Liberia.

Aid for victims of violence in Abidjan and in the west

Over the past few days, clashes in the west, near the border with Liberia, have resulted in a new wave of displacement towards Danané. The Red Cross has distributed emergency supplies to nearly 1,500 displaced people in three reception centres in Danané.

Following clashes in the Abobo neighbourhood of Abidjan, over 2,100 people who found refuge in the St Ambroise d'Angré parish, at the Centre d'écoute d'Adjamé, in Anyama, and in the protestant mission in Yopougon Gesco were given tarpaulins, buckets, kitchen utensils, hygiene items, basins, soap and sleeping mats. Over 650 people whose property was destroyed or looted amid inter-community violence in Lakota, in the west, were given the same items.

Although most displaced people have no access to basic health care, they can rely on each other and on people in the communities in which they find themselves for help. To make sure that civilians can benefit from at least a minimum level of medical care, the Red Cross donated two malaria-treatment kits and two kits containing basic medicines to four facilities around Abidjan. Each kit contains enough supplies to treat 1,000 people for three months. At the catholic mission in Duékoué, in the west, Ivorian Red Cross volunteers provided health care for more than 3,000 displaced people.

Over the past four weeks, first-aid workers have attended to nearly 200 people wounded in the violence, and evacuated around 70 serious cases to medical facilities in Abidjan, Grand-Bassam (near Abidjan) and Toulepleu, in the west.

In addition, the Red Cross provided medicines for the hospitals of Bloléquin and Toulepleu, two cities in the west of the country.

Providing access to water and raising awareness of hygiene

In Lakota, around 1,370 wells were disinfected and chlorinated, and over a thousand people received training in basic hygiene.

A generator was installed at the Catholic mission in Duékoué to run a water supply system serving displaced people. Ivorian Red Cross volunteers continued to raise awareness of public hygiene and to carry out maintenance work on equipment used to supply drinking water.

Detainee-welfare activities

Over the past four weeks, ICRC delegates made six visits to six permanent and temporary places of detention throughout the country to monitor the conditions in which detainees are being held and the treatment they receive. They talked privately with 41 detainees, including 34 for the first time. In addition, the ICRC provided food aid for 1,020 detainees in 10 prisons.

Refugees in Liberia: increasing need to restore family links

The Red Cross has scaled up its assistance in Liberia to respond to the needs of thousands of newly arrived Ivorian refugees and their host communities. According to the United Nations, the number of refugees in Liberia is now over 85,000.

The ICRC, the Liberian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have installed a water purification unit in the border town of Buutuo, where the population tripled after the escalation of fighting in western Côte d'Ivoire. The unit provides 75,000 litres of clean water a day and serves more than 10,000 people. "Even before the arrival of the refugees, only three wells were running properly in Buutuo. People fetched water from the nearby river, which is not suitable for human consumption," explained Isidore Kieh, in charge of ICRC water and habitat programmes in Liberia.

The second wave of refugees, after 24 February, was more sudden and disorganized than the first, and resulted in more families being dispersed. It frequently happened that children got lost on the way to Liberia, or that they were not with their parents when they heard gun shots, and fled. In one week, the ICRC and volunteers of the Liberian Red Cross registered and assisted 17 newly arrived children separated from their parents. In addition, refugees in the border communities and in the Bahn refugee camp have been able to make over 350 free phone calls and send Red Cross messages to their loved ones in Côte d'Ivoire. This brings the total of restored contacts to over 750 since mid-December 2010.

The Red Cross has also trained volunteers in first aid so that they can provide care for refugees who may be injured or suddenly fall ill.

 

For further information, please contact:
Kelnor Panglungtshang, ICRC Abidjan, tel: +225 09 399 404
Noora Kero, ICRC Monrovia, tel: +231 77 55 65 33
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50


Photos

Danané, Côte d’Ivoire. The ICRC distributes essential supplies to displaced persons at one of three sites. Many families had to flee the towns of Zouan hoounien, Bin houyé and Toulepleu following the latest clashes. In several cases, they had to abandon everything they owned in order to escape. 

Danané, Côte d’Ivoire. The ICRC distributes essential supplies to displaced persons at one of three sites. Many families had to flee the towns of Zouan hoounien, Bin houyé and Toulepleu following the latest clashes. In several cases, they had to abandon everything they owned in order to escape.
© ICRC / A. Tindé

UESSO church, Danané, Côte d’Ivoire. The ICRC distributes essential supplies to displaced persons staying with host families. 

UESSO church, Danané, Côte d’Ivoire. The ICRC distributes essential supplies to displaced persons staying with host families.
© ICRC / A. Tindé

Lakota, Côte d’Ivoire. Red Cross volunteers chlorinate a 2,000-litre well supplying the whole of Lakota with drinking water. 

Lakota, Côte d’Ivoire. Red Cross volunteers chlorinate a 2,000-litre well supplying the whole of Lakota with drinking water.
© ICRC / O. N'Guessan / v-p-ci-e 00110

Buutuo, Nimba, Liberia. Elène Bleu has just fled to Liberia. Here, she uses an ICRC phone to call her daughter in Côte d’Ivoire to let her know that she has arrived safely. 

Buutuo, Nimba, Liberia. Elène Bleu has just fled to Liberia. Here, she uses an ICRC phone to call her daughter in Côte d’Ivoire to let her know that she has arrived safely.
© ICRC / N. Kero

Buutuo, Nimba, Liberia. A Liberian Red Cross volunteer distributes water to Ivorian refugees and the families who are looking after them. 

Buutuo, Nimba, Liberia. A Liberian Red Cross volunteer distributes water to Ivorian refugees and the families who are looking after them.
© ICRC / N. Kero