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Côte d'Ivoire: thousands of displaced people in Abidjan not yet ready to go home

27-05-2011 Operational Update No 07/11

Most displaced people in Abidjan are gradually returning home, but for several thousand of them, especially those from from the hard-hit communities of Yopougon and Abobo, it is still too early to do so. The Red Cross has not forgotten them.

Since the last of the clashes took place in Yopougon at the beginning of May, the vast majority of displaced people in or near Abidjan have gradually been going back to their home areas. There remain several thousand people, however, in reception centres and with host families who are not ready to go back because their houses and livelihoods have been destroyed, or because they still fear for their safety in an environment that remains fragile. Many people displaced from the communities of Yopougon and Abobo in particular do not know where to go.

"When they were fleeing the fighting and looting, most of these men, women and children found refuge in schoolhouses, churches and mosques. As ordinary activities gradually resume, those buildings can no longer be used to shelter hundreds, or even thousands, of displaced people," said Dominique Liengme, head of the ICRC delegation in Abidjan. "Over the past few weeks, many transitional reception centres for displaced people in Abidjan have emptied. Others are on the verge of closing. Many people are returning to their homes only to find complete devastation."

Aid for the displaced

Since clashes first erupted in Abobo in early March, the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire have been redoubling their efforts to help people who had to flee and take refuge in the various reception centres set up in Abidjan and in nearby cities such as Dabou, Anyama, Bingerville and Jacqueville. Over 21,000 displaced people accommodated in nearly 30 centres have been given emergency aid by the Red Cross, which has distributed tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchen utensils, hygiene items and high-protein biscuits. Red Cross personnel have also set up tents, made drinking water easier to obtain and delivered bandages and essential medicines to dispensaries on the premises or to the nearest health-care centres.

The ICRC and the Ivorian Red Cross continue to monitor the situation, in humanitarian terms, of all displaced people who cannot or dare not yet return to their homes, and to provide them with aid according to their needs. Food aid will be provided for the most vulnerable people returning to their homes in the districts hardest hit by violence in Yopougon. The aid will begin to flow as soon as Red Cross assessments, set to take place shortly, have been completed.

For further information, please contact:
Kelnor Panglungtshang, ICRC Abidjan, tel: +225 09 399 404
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50