Côte d’Ivoire: Fragile security leaves civilians vulnerable

28 Apr 2011

A child who was wounded in a machete attack near Guiglo, western Côte d’Ivoire, mid-April 2011. Credit: IRIN/Nancy Palus
On 22 April President Ouattara called on the militia to lay down their arms, but ongoing lack of security impedes civilian access to humanitarian aid.

On 22 April 2011, President Ouattara called on the militia to lay down their arms, and in Abidjan some have already done so. However, pockets of resistance have been observed and the security situation in many areas remains fragile in the post electoral crisis. Lack of security is aggravating the vulnerability of civilians who need essential health, education and sanitation services while dealing with forced displacement and loss of property.

“These populations should be assisted without further delay to enable them to live in acceptable conditions and regain their dignity,” said Humanitarian Coordinator for Côte d’Ivoire Mr. Ndolamb Ngokwey.

In response to the crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO), Action Against Hunger and Médecins Sans Frontière have scheduled a food assistance programme in Duékoué and a hospital in Abobo targeting children less than five years old and those wounded during the war.Also, schools reopened officially on 26 April in southern Côte d’Ivoire despite high rates of absenteeism in unstable neighborhoods.

In western Côte d’Ivoirethe humanitarian situation is critical. The Zouan Hounien/Toulepleu-frontiere/Blolequin triangle is completely devastated: most villages are deserted but people who have chosen to remain in these areas need assistance, according to the most recent OCHA situation report. A WHO evaluation exercise showed that in the western regions Montagnes and Moyan Cavally, over half the health centres and hospitals are non-operational. Armed militia men in the area continue to attack the population that has sought refuge in the bush.

“More must be done to protect civilians and assist victims of rape and assault, which continue in areas of the country that remain insecure,” said Mr. Ngokwey in a statement on 28 April. “This must stop, and law and order must be restored so that the population can live in peace.”

The Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for Côte d’Ivoireand neighboring countries is currently funded at only 20 per cent of the required $160 million.

More>> OCHA Situation Report #2  [English - French]