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Côte d'Ivoire: humanitarian situation still a concern for Red Cross

13-08-2003 Operational Update

Although hostilities have been over for some time, the humanitarian consequences of the conflict that began almost a year ago persist. The ICRC and the Côte d'Ivoire Red Cross continue to provide vital support to the affected population.

The ICRC operation, which began immediately after the outbreak of hostilities in September 2002, focuses on two fields of activity:

 
ICRC ref/CI-E-00011
Tracing: hopes to find disappeared relatives or friends. 
 
  • Protection - visiting prisoners, re-establishing links between members of families separated by the conflict, and intervening with the authorities concerned to ensure the well-being of the civilian population

  • Assistance – providing support to essential services in areas where these have ceased to function because of the conflict, particularly in the fields of health care and water and electricity supply; these benefit both displaced people and the resident population.

Because of its access to all parts of the country, based on the agreement of all sides since the start of the fighting, the ICRC and the Côte d'Ivoire Red Cross have provided a life-line for hundreds of thousands of people. The ICRC has bases in Abidjan, Bouaké, Korhogo and Man, with emergency stocks of medical supplies in case of need.

 
 

During the first six months of this year the operation has included:

 
 
Working in partnership

The ICRC in Côte d'Ivoire works in close partnership with the national Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Among their activities:

The Ivorian Red Cross has recently begun assisting about 600 families in Abidjan who host displaced people. Based strictly on criteria of need, the programme - funded by the Spanish Red Cross - helps about 10,000 people.
The Federation and Ivorian Red Cross have begun a community health programme in the east of the country and have re-launched an HIV/AIDS programme in some 50 towns and villages.  

 
 
  • visits by the ICRC to people detained by the authorities as well as by the " Forces Nouvelles "  - former insurgent groups (since 19 September 2002, 567 people have been visited in 36 places of detention)

  • the setting up of a Red Cross message network, to restore contact between relatives separated by the conflict, both in Côte d'Ivoire and in neighbouring countries – some 1,500 messages have been exchanged. In some cases this has helped re-unite children with their families.

  • gathering allegations by civilians of violations of international humanitarian law and requesting appropriate action by the authorities concerned

  • dissemination of humanitarian law to weapons-bearers, either through structured courses or by impromptu sessions at check-points; the importance of respect for the law has also been stressed to local journalists at two training seminars in May

  • provision of essential medical supplies to more than 100 health centres in areas where the health aut horities have not yet resumed normal working, and direct provision of health care by the national Red Cross in certain locations

  • transporting each month up to 60 tonnes of products vital to the operation of water treatment plants in the north, and arranging the transport of technical staff to otherwise inaccessible areas, in order to get electricity networks and water mains working again

  • the cleaning of hundreds of wells by teams from the Red Cross working with villagers, as well as the construction of shelters, latrines and shower blocks for displaced people

  • the provision of food and non-food relief for displaced and other vulnerable people; about 4,000 people receive food aid every month.