Côte d’Ivoire: ICRC and Ivorian Red Cross assist victims of inter-community violence
21-01-2011 Operational Update
Violence linked to Côte d’Ivoire’s post-election crisis is having major humanitarian consequences, especially in the west of the country. Ever since the crisis began, the ICRC has been visiting prisoners and has been working with the Ivorian Red Cross to help the wounded and the displaced.
Humanitarian emergency in the west
The unstable, polarized situation following the elections has exacerbated long-standing inter-community tensions in the west and centre-west. Early January saw these tensions degenerate into violent clashes in Duékoué and Lakota that left many dead or injured and forced thousands to flee.
“Over the last three weeks, Ivorian Red Cross volunteers across the country have treated 114 casualties, taking 100 of them to hospital. They have also delivered 14 bodies to mortuaries. The human cost of the clashes has been particularly high in Duékoué and Lakota,” according to ICRC delegation head Dominique Liengme. “Medical facilities – especially Duékoué hospital – have been finding it difficult to cope with the sudden influx of casualties. An uneasy calm has returned to the west of the country, but the situation remains tense,” she added.
The catholic mission in Duékoué has been overwhelmed by the needs of the 12,000 displaced people who have come seeking water and shelter. There are fewer displaced persons in Man and around Lakota, but their needs are similar. Dominique Liengme points out that “the number of displaced persons changes daily, and it’s difficult to give a precise estimate of numbers.”
Volunteers have set up a health post at the catholic mission in Duékoué that has so far treated over 800 patients. The ICRC is supporting the Ivorian Red Cross by providing ambulances, drivers, first-aid materials, basic medicines and communications equipment. The ICRC has also provided six medical facilities in Duékoué, Guiglo, Man and Lakota with dressing kits, as their normal stocks were insufficient for the large numbers of casualties. Each kit contains enough dressing materials to treat 100 people.
Duékoué: drinking water for those most in need
“The waterworks in Duékoué was abandoned when the clashes began, cutting off the supply of drinking water to the entire town,” explained Jacques Maradan, who runs the ICRC’s water and sanitation programmes in Côte d’Ivoire. “To ensure that the catholic mission has enough drinking water, we have installed a 45,000-litre tank and repaired the pump that supplies the water tower.” The ICRC has chlorinated almost 400 wells at the protestant mission and in two areas of Duékoué, where about 1,000 people have taken refuge. These wells are the only water points available to these vulnerable people. The organization has also installed two 5,000-litre tanks at Duékoué and one at the protestant mission.
Working with the Ivorian Red Cross, ICRC teams have set up 16 communal latrines and 10 additional showers at the catholic mission (having already set up the same number in December) and have installed 10 latrines at the protestant mission. Volunteers have also conducted briefing sessions on basic hygiene precautions and the disposal of refuse.
The ICRC has put up 35 large tents at the catholic mission, each with space for at least 20 people. The tents are providing shelter for the most vulnerable members of the population, especially women who are pregnant, those who are breastfeeding, and older people.
Emergency aid for 7,500 displaced persons
The ICRC has distributed essential supplies to over 7,500 people In the west of the country since the beginning of January. The items supplied included plastic sheeting, lengths of cloth to use as clothing, mosquito nets, buckets, bowls and soap.
The beneficiaries of these operations include 7,000 displaced persons who had fled the inter-community violence (most of whom are currently in Duékoué, although some have gone to Man) and almost 600 who fled towards Danané, fearing a deterioration in the situation in their villages along the Liberian border.
Visiting detainees remains a high priority
Since the beginning of the post-electoral crisis, the ICRC has been focusing on the situation of people held in connection with demonstrations and violence. Since 1 January, the ICRC has visited over 330 detainees – almost 70 of them for the first time – in various prisons and temporary places of detention around the country. ICRC delegates have also made almost 40 phone calls to give families news of relatives who have been detained.
Drinking water and restoration of family links for refugees
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has so far registered over 30,000 refugees in the county of Nimba, across the border in Liberia. The ICRC is providing assistance to these refugees, supporting the Liberian Red Cross and working in coordination with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other agencies.
Some 20 volunteers from the Liberian Red Cross are helping people who have become separated from their families to contact them by telephone or Red Cross message, to reassure them that they are safe and well. Currently, these refugees are staying with host families, and the influx has created the need for additional drinking water and hygiene facilities. The ICRC and the Liberian Red Cross are repairing water points and pumps, setting up latrines and briefing people on health and hygiene.
More than 750 refugees have so far arrived in Bossou, south-eastern Guinea. Since the end of December, a joint team from the ICRC and the Guinean Red Cross has registered around 60 unaccompanied children. In at least 10 cases, the team has been able to establish phone contact between the child and his or her family in Côte d’Ivoire.
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