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Côte d'Ivoire: massive humanitarian relief effort still needed

14-04-2011 Operational Update

The security situation in Côte d'Ivoire remains unsettled, and a massive inflow of aid is needed. The ICRC, together with the Ivorian Red Cross, has resumed emergency aid in Abidjan and stepped up assistance for displaced people and others in the west of the country.

Situation still serious in Abidjan and in several towns in the west

"For nearly two weeks now we have been receiving hundreds of distress calls every day," said Dominique Liengme, the head of the ICRC delegation in Abidjan. "The situation is now improving somewhat. People are starting to be able to obtain supplies, but not in every part of the city. Many who are injured or ill still cannot go to hospital because of the security situation, or because they lack transportation. Medical facilities that are still functioning are overwhelmed, and they lack supplies and personnel. In several parts of the city, bodies still litter the streets."

In the western part of the country, many people have been injured or killed in the clashes and inter-community violence, and thousands more have had to flee their homes. The situation is especially serious in Guiglo, Duékoué and Daloa, and near the Liberian border along the road from Bin Houyé to Toulepleu and Bloléquin. "Many houses, markets and hospitals have been looted or even destroyed," said Ms Liengme. "Tensions remain high, and violence could erupt again."

Emergency aid in Abidjan

Since 13 April the ICRC has provided more than 3,700 displaced people in four reception centres in Abidjan with compressed food products that enable both children and adults suffering from nutritional deficiency to recover their strength.

Today the ICRC is delivering medical supplies to the university medical centres in the Cocody and Treichville areas of Abidjan, which serve as referral hospitals, and to the Ste Anne-Marie international polyclinic.

"Since 1 April, Ivorian Red Cross first-aid workers have been on the front line, despite the security situation," said Ms Liengme. "They administered first aid to almost 600 injured or sick people, and they took 300 to the nearest hospitals. They are doing a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances."

Red Cross volunteers have also distributed food, drinking water and other basic necessities to a multitude of displaced people in various reception centres and to other needy people. Occasionally, they have also helped morticians recover bodies in various parts of the city.

Medical assistance and aid for displaced people are priorities in Guiglo

On 13 April the ICRC and the Ivorian Red Cross began to distribute essential supplies to some 7,000 displaced people in five reception centres in the western city of Guiglo. "This is the first time that aid of this kind has been provided for displaced people in Guiglo, which has been hard hit by fighting, looting and other violence," explained Edmond Corthésy, who is in charge of the ICRC's humanitarian activities in the area.

"In this area, there are many hospitals and health-care centres that have ceased to function since the recent events," said Mr Corthésy. In Guiglo, the Ivorian Red Cross has treated more than 200 people for injury or illness since 5 April. An ICRC-supported mobile clinic operating along the road from Bin Houyé to Toulepleu and Bloléquin has so far provided almost 480 free consultations, including nearly 30 for pregnant women. Emergency aid distributions will take place along the road over the coming days.

In the centre-west of the country, Gagnoa hospital is again functioning thanks to an ambulance, fuel, medical supplies and personnel made available by the Red Cross. In the north, the ICRC has provided dressing kits and plaster casts to various medical facilities in Bouaké.

Water and sanitation in the west

In Duékoué, tens of thousands of people who fled the violence remain in reception centres. Since the beginning of January, ICRC and Ivorian Red Cross personnel have been toiling to meet their need for water. Over the past few days they built a platform for two 10,000-litre water tanks, brought in water by truck to fill the tanks at the city's hospital and Catholic and Protestant missions, and installed two new tapstands. They are also building 20 latrines and 20 extra showers, and cleaning and disinfecting part of the Catholic mission.

In Guiglo, the Red Cross installed 25 latrines and 20 showers for displaced people, and chlorinated 10 wells in the city.

Visits to detainees

Large numbers of people have been arrested in connection with the armed conflict over the past few days. ICRC delegates have begun visiting detainees in Bouaké in order to assess the treatment they receive and conditions of detention.

In Abidjan, the ICRC has asked to be able to visit detainees belonging to this same category – including Mr Gbagbo and his close relations, who were arrested on 11 April.

Situation still critical for refugees and host families in neighbouring Liberia

The estimated 130,000 Ivorian refugees who have fled the unrest since last December are adopting a prudent attitude: they are waiting to see how the situation in their country develops before deciding whether to return. In the meantime, new refugees have arrived in Maryland County, in south-eastern Liberia.

The ICRC and the Liberia National Red Cross continue to help children and other refugees restore contact with the families from which they have been separated. In addition, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, they are helping refugees and their host communities to obtain the drinking water they need. Liberian communities along the border have been tremendously generous towards the Ivorians they have taken in; as a result, local resources have been seriously depleted. The ICRC is also visiting people detained in Harper Central Prison, in Maryland County, in connection with the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire.

For further information, please contact:
Kelnor Panglungtshang, ICRC Abidjan, tel: +225 09 399 404
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 50


Photos

Abidjan. An Ivorian Red Cross volunteer hands out water. 

April 2011, Abidjan. An Ivorian Red Cross volunteer hands out water.
© ICRC

Guiglo. Ivorian Red Cross personnel distribute essential supplies to displaced people. 

13.04.2011. Guiglo. Ivorian Red Cross personnel distribute essential supplies to displaced people.
© ICRC

Guiglo. Ivorian Red Cross personnel distribute essential supplies to displaced people. 

13.04.2011. Guiglo. Ivorian Red Cross personnel distribute essential supplies to displaced people.
© ICRC

Toulepleu, Côte d'Ivoire. The mobile clinic's medical team providing consultations and treatment at the offices of the local Ivorian Red Cross. 

01.04.2011. Toulepleu, Côte d'Ivoire. The mobile clinic's medical team providing consultations and treatment at the offices of the local Ivorian Red Cross.
© ICRC / A-M. Altherr