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Côte d'Ivoire: ICRC steps up its humanitarian activities

30-12-2010 Operational Update

After the second round of presidential elections on 28 November, the situation in Côte d'Ivoire remains extremely tense. In view of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the ICRC has stepped up its activities conducted for those arrested, injured and displaced, and for refugees in neighbouring countries.

Deep concern about the humanitarian situation

The political deadlock in Côte d'Ivoire has been accompanied by violent demonstrations, arrests and population displacement. Thousands of people fearing a deterioration in security conditions have been displaced within the country, while even greater numbers of others have already gone to neighbouring countries – mainly Liberia and, to a lesser extent, Guinea.

The ICRC is deeply concerned by the current situation and is doing its utmost to ensure that Red Cross medical activities can be conducted unhindered, and that humanitarian principles, such as the obligation to care for the wounded, to protect persons detained, and to help members of dispersed families to re-establish contact, are upheld.

"These past few weeks, volunteers from the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire have worked tirelessly to bring first aid to the wounded," said Dominique Liengme, head of the ICRC regional delegation in Abidjan. "They were generally treated with respect and no one hindered them from reaching the wounded or from evacuating the most serious cases."

Support for first-aid workers and for medical facilities

With support from the ICRC, Ivorian Red Cross first-aid workers have treated 590 wounded people throughout the country since 26 November. In about half of these cases they transferred the patients to medical facilities with serious injuries. The ICRC makes available ambulances, drivers, first-aid kits and communications equipment to the country's Red Cross society.

The ICRC provided wound-dressing kits, each containing enough supplies to treat at least 100 injured people, for 10 medical facilities that had been facing shortages of some items owing to the number of casualties.

At the request of the national blood transfusion centre, facing security and logistics problems, the ICRC transported over 150 blood bags to hospitals in Toumodi, Yamoussoukro, Bouaké and Korhogo.

Activities in behalf of people arrested or detained

"At this difficult and tense time, ICRC delegates are stepping up their regular visits to people held in places of detention throughout the country," said Ms Liengme.

The ICRC takes up all allegations of arrest that are reported to it with the authorities in order to clarify what has happened to the individuals concerned. It endeavours to visit those detained or arrested as quickly as possible in order to ensure that the conditions in which they are being held comply with national and international standards.

Since 26 November, the ICRC has visited over 300 people held in various temporary and permanent places of detention throughout the territory of Côte d'Ivoire. ICRC delegates have also made more than 150 telephone calls to notify families of the detention of their loved ones.

Aid for displaced people

The ICRC and the Ivorian Red Cross have distributed tarpaulins, clothing, cooking sets, mosquito nets, buckets, basins and soap to more than 2,700 displaced people in Duékoué, Danané and Sinfra, in the west and centre-west of the country – including over 2,000 who spend each night in the Catholic mission in Duékoué in search of safety.

"The influx of people quickly overwhelmed the sanitary facilities available in the mission," said Jacques Maradan, an ICRC water and sanitation specialist. The ICRC therefore built 16 latrines and 10 showers, and upgraded eight water points and the water tower supplying the Catholic mission with clean drinking water. Red Cross volunteers trained by the ICRC conduct awareness-raising sessions on basic hygiene for the displaced people.

Clean drinking water and restored contact with family members for refugees

In Liberia's Nimba county, where the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees has registered over 15,000 refugees, a score of volunteers from the Liberia National Red Cross Society are helping people separated from other members of their families to contact their loved ones by telephone to let them know they are safe and well. One of the volunteers' main tasks is to identify and register unaccompanied children and to search for their families. To date, the volunteers have registered six such children.

The ICRC has also sent in engineers who have upgraded four sources of drinking water in Duoplay Town, Kentorkporglay and Sertontuo, where more than 1,000 refugees are living with residents. "Everywhere we go, we find a lack of access to drinking water and to latrines," said Albert Jamah, one of the ICRC engineers.

In the Bossou area of Guinea, in the south-eastern part of the country, over 200 refugees have arrived to date. Staff from the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of Guinea, working together, succeeded in establishing telephone contact between nine unaccompanied children discovered in the area and members of their families.


For further information, please contact:
Kelnor Panglungtshang, ICRC Abidjan, tel: +225 09 399 404
Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24


The district of Dioulabougou in Danané. Emergency household items are distributed to displaced families. 

The district of Dioulabougou in Danané. Emergency household items are distributed to displaced families.
© ICRC / V. Grabscheid

A water hole is repaired at Duékoué. 

A water hole is repaired at Duékoué.
© ICRC / C. Peglan / v-p-ci-e-00108

A group of displaced people shelters at Duékoué's catholic  mission. 

A group of displaced people shelters at Duékoué's catholic mission.
© ICRC / C. Peglan / v-p-ci-e-00109

A displaced woman in Dioulabougou with her emergency items.  

A displaced woman in Dioulabougou with her emergency items.
© ICRC / V. Grabscheid