Côte d’Ivoire: Helping displaced families return home

16 Jan 2012

Côte d’Ivoire: Madeleine Doué rebuilds her house with help from Solidarite Internationale. Credit: OCHA/ Côte d’Ivoire
Nine months since the election crisis, over half a million Ivorians have returned home but many still need help rebuilding their homes and lives

Sixty-year old Madeleine Doué, a widow and mother of six, fled Blody, her village in Moyen Cavally, in December 2010 and settled at the Catholic Mission in Duékoué, western Côte d’Ivoire last year.

The camp offered Mrs. Doué and her family security as well as access to food and health services. In August 2011, however, she decided to return to Blody despite not knowing what had happened to her village.

“After eight months of being on the run, I decided to go home so that I could live on my own terms, nearer my family and on the land left to me by my grandfather. I just wanted to get back to my traditional way of life,” says Madeleine.

However, when she got back to Blody, Madeleine’s hope for a new start gave way to stark reality: her house had been burned down. She and two of her children have had to sleep in a neighbour’s kitchen while she rebuilds her home.

Nearly a year after the crisis, more than 186,000 Ivorians remain displaced within the country and over 160,000 others are refugees in neighbouring countries. At the peak of the crisis last year, about a million people were internally displaced and there were 200,000 Ivorian refugees in 13 neighbouring countries. 

To help internally displaced Ivorians like Madeleine Doué, the UN today launched a humanitarian appeal for Côte d’Ivoire asking for over US$173 million to help UN agencies, and local and international NGOs like Solidarite Internationale, carry out critical projects in 2012.

As part of one of these projects, Mrs. Doué needs to make around 2,000 mud bricks – a task made more difficult by the lack of reliable water in the area. “Coming home has been harder than I expected, but there is a strong sense of solidarity in the community. Young people working with the village Habitat Committee help me fetch water and mix the soil so I can finish making my bricks and rebuild my house,” says Madeleine.

In western Côte d’Ivoire, shelter remains a major problem for internally displaced people and returnees. According to humanitarian organizations, 75 per cent of the 12,600 homes destroyed during the crisis, belong to villagers like Ms. Doué. Funds are urgently needed to rehabilitate these homes if the resettlement of these returnees is to be sustainable.

More>> Humanitarian Appeal for Côte d’Ivoire

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