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Côte d'Ivoire: the ICRC response to the increased violence

15-11-2004 Operational Update

Following the recent upsurge in violence in the Côte d'Ivoire, the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Côte d'Ivoire have been involved in a series of emergency response activities with particular emphasis on providing medical treatment, equipment and supplies and ensuring access to safe water.

The resumption of hostilities at the beginning of November 2004 between government forces and the rebel Forces Nouvelles demonstrated the fragility of the Côte d'Ivoire's political situation and underscored how rapidly security conditions could deteriorate for the civilian population.

By mid-November, a relative calm had returned to the country but the situation remains extremely volatile. The country remains divided three ways: the south controlled by troops loyal to the government, the north controlled by the rebel group, Forces Nouvelles, and the buffer zone patrolled by French and UN peacekeepers. 

    

 Responding to the needs of the sick and wounded  

The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Côte d'Ivoire responded to the violence by concentrating on assisting the wounded and trying to alleviate the effects of the fighting on the civilian population. Between 5 November and 11 November, the Red Cross treated more than 3,000 sick and injured people, giving first aid to the casualties of the fighting, evacuating them and ensuring hospital treatment.

In addition, the ICRC donated medical supplies to two hospitals in Abidjan for the treatment of 350 wounded people and provided the fire brigade with dressings for 400 war wounded and first aid material to the Red Cross Society of the Côte d'Ivoire. The ICRC also supplied clothes to hundreds of hospital patients and provided transport to medical staff to ensu re their safety.

In the south of the country, the ICRC donated medical supplies to hospitals and health centres in Gagnoa and Daloa and helped mobilize volunteers from the Red Cross Society of the Côte d'Ivoire in 9 towns to assist casualties of violence. In Gagnoa, the national society also helped in the transfer of blood supplies between health centres.

In the north and west, the organization delivered medical supplies to around 70 health centres and provided fuel for hospital generators.

 Access to safe water  

    

The disruption of the electricity supply in the north and west of the country was a major concern. Water-pumping stations ground to a halt, cutting the supply of drinking water to a population of 1.5 million.

In several towns, the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Côte d'Ivoire disinfected wells and informed the population about safe water sources through a series of radio announcements.

Essential services have since returned to normal but the ICRC is maintaining its programme for the disinfection of wells and continues to monitor the situation.

    

 Regular activities  

    

In addition to its response to the humanitarian needs caused by the recent hostilities, the ICRC carries on implementing its set objectives for Côte d'Ivoire and the res t of the countries covered by the Abidjan regional delegation. As lead agency, the ICRC has been coordinating the response to the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire on behalf of other components of the Movement. The ICRC had authorization and security guarantees renewed by all parties involved, and therefore access to almost the entire country.

The ICRC manages its humanitarian activities in Côte d'Ivoire out of its main delegation in Abidjan and through its sub-delegations in Bouaké and Man and the office in Korhogo. In addition, the ICRC coordinates and finances the activities of volunteers and professionals of the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire, itself composed of a network of 42 active branches.

Throughout the region, the ICRC continues to concentrate on monitoring the humanitarian situation related to the Ivorian and Liberian conflicts, particularly the plight of returnees and separated family members. Protection of populations threatened or affected by the conflict, both civilians and detainees, forms the bulk of the organization's activities in Côte d'Ivoire. The ICRC is maintaining its efforts to support facilities that provide essential services (water supply, health care) to populations in hard-to-reach areas and enhance the populations'economic security. It focuses on promoting international humanitarian law in the field, with particular attention to weapon bearers and civil society in regions at risk.