The Socio-political Situation
Eighteen months after the post-electoral crisis of April 2011, the social and political situation in CDI has become gradually more stable. However, root causes of tensions and confrontations between communities remain unaddressed, such as identity and land-tenure issues. Several challenges remain: ensuring security throughout the country; installing State authority and justice; improving access to basic social services; furthering reconciliation and social cohesion; and ensuring economic recovery.
Several important political developments took place in 2012. They included the first session of the National Assembly in April, with 252 newly appointed members and Guillaume Soro as Assembly President. President Ouattara dissolved the Government in November and promptly appointed the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Kablan Duncan, as the new Prime Minister. The new Government comprises 29 ministers compared with 36 in the previous Government.
Insecurity remains a serious concern. Broad reconciliation efforts at national and community levels and addressing impunity and land-tenure issues are critical. The proliferation of weapons and presence of armed militias, especially in border areas, are a growing threat and a major factor in the decision of many displaced people not to return home. Human rights violations committed by National Defense and security elements highlight the need for inclusive Security Sector Reform (SSR) and progress in the DDR of former combatants.
The mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in CDI (Opération des Nations Unies en Côte d’Ivoire, ONUCI) has been extended to 31 July 2013. ONUCI’s mandate is to protect civilians and support SSR, DDR, elections, human rights, the re-establishment of State authority and national reconciliation. The mission’s military component has been reduced by one battalion to 8,837 personnel.
The situation in neighbouring countries, particularly Liberia and Mali, may negatively affect stability in CDI. The potential deployment of an ECOWAS peacekeeping mission under the UN mandate in Mali could have humanitarian and security consequences for CDI in border areas and the northern part of the country. Local elections, scheduled for February 2013, could trigger more confrontations.
The Humanitarian Situation
Most Ivorian refugees and IDPs have returned to their areas of origin, but there are still an estimated 81,500 IDPs in CDI, of whom 60,000 are in the west of the country. They live with host families and in communities with limited livelihoods and poor access to basic social services. More than 84,000 Ivorians are refugees in neighbouring countries, including 64,800 in Liberia (figures under revision).
The main humanitarian challenges in west CDI are ensuring the sustainable and safe return of IDPs and refugees; assisting in the provision of basic services such as health and nutrition, education, and water and sanitation; and providing livelihood support for IDPs and their host communities. However, a recurring climate of insecurity and ineffective restoration of State authority continue to affect the return areas.
Despite the relative sufficient rainfall, recent assessments estimate that the 2012-2013 agricultural harvest will yield 38 per cent less than previous years. This decline has several underlying causes, such as population movements in the west, abandonment of farm land, lack of agricultural equipment and manpower, delayed sowing and rainfall, and high costs of agricultural inputs. Food insecurity is a concern, and it is spreading to areas that were less affected by the recent conflict, such as the northern and central regions. Vulnerabilities could also increase due to lean-season high food prices and the export of the large quantities of produce to the markets in neighbouring Sahel countries, such as Mali.
Malnutrition remains a main cause of morbidity and mortality among children under age 5, and it requires continued humanitarian action. In CDI, malnutrition is mainly caused by lack of access to quality food, clean water and health care, and inappropriate feeding, hygiene and sanitation practices among rural people, particularly in the north. Recent nutritional data shows that nationwide global acute malnutrition prevalence has reached 7.5 per cent. Severe acute malnutrition is highest in the north-eastern region at 3.3 per cent. Chronic malnutrition rates are as high as 39.3 per cent in the north and north-east.
The Humanitarian Strategy and Response
Most aid agencies agree that humanitarian assistance must be maintained in 2013 in CDI. Therefore, in the absence of a Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), humanitarian partners in CDI elaborated a Humanitarian Needs Strategy for 2013 to ensure a coordinated response focusing on the humanitarian priorities in the context of transition. The strategy focuses on assistance to IDPs, returnees and host communities in the west, and strengthening food security and addressing malnutrition in northern and western regions. It identifies the following strategic priorities:
1. Support durable solutions in return areas in the west.
2. Ensure life-saving response to emergency situations through:
-Targeted and timely interventions to address identified vulnerabilities.
-Implementing the inter-agency contingency plan.
-Reinforcing advocacy for Government-led life-saving interventions in pre-identified vulnerable areas.
The strategy aligns priorities and response actions with the existing early recovery and/or development frameworks of the UN and development partners—such as Joint Programmes and UNDAF—and of the Government, such as the National Development Plan, the Post-Conflict Assistance Program and the Presidential Emergency Plan. The strategy is based on the assumption that stability is maintained. It includes actions to mitigate the impact of factors that could trigger renewed insecurity, affect humanitarian response activities and delay the return of refugees and IDPs.
Most clusters will be de-activated by early 2013. They will handover coordination modalities to relevant Government ministries and local authorities, or to a continuation of sector working groups led by former cluster lead agencies. A large proportion of the humanitarian needs resulting from the post-electoral crisis have been addressed. Therefore, as the situation continues to stabilize, it is expected that an increasing number of relief agencies, particularly international NGOs, will downsize and/or exit in 2013.
Through the 2012 CDI CAP, the humanitarian community appealed for US$160 million (revised requirements). As of December 2012, $84 million was mobilized (60 per cent).
The situation in CDI is likely to stabilize further in 2012, but security incidents are likely in the west and in and around the economic capital, Abidjan. The situation for IDPs is expected to improve in the next year, with a vast majority of displaced people and a significant number of refugees returning home. The return process will continue to depend on security conditions in areas of origin, and on humanitarian actors’ ability to provide assistance.
The following elements could negatively influence the humanitarian situation:
Periodic eruption of land disputes.
Municipal elections that trigger conflict.
A medium- to large-scale refugee influx in northern CDI from Mali.
Natural disasters such as floods and epidemics.
Humanitarian aid is expected to decrease over the year due to further consolidation of the post-crisis situation.