News / Africa

Hundreds of Thousands Displaced in Abidjan

Residents of the popular district of Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan, flee fighting on February 25, 2011
Residents of the popular district of Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan, flee fighting on February 25, 2011


Joe DeCapua

In Ivory Coast, fighting between supporters of rival presidents is spreading and the number of displaced people is growing rapidly.

President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down and yield power to Alassane Ouattara. After elections in November, the U.N. certified Mr. Ouattara as the winner.

The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), says humanitarian organizations are finding it more difficult to reach those in need.

Spokesman Adrian Edwards says, “What we’re seeing in Cote d’Ivoire is an increasingly frightening situation.  In Abidjan…the estimated number of displaced people is now exceeding 200,000.  And these are mostly people who fled recent fighting in Abobo district.”

Insecurity is now spreading beyond Abobo to other neighborhoods, including the main business district of the commercial capital.


“In the west of the country, we’re also seeing displacement problems because of insecurity there.  And we estimate that about 70,000 people are displaced in the west,” Edwards says.

Many Ivoirians have crossed the border into Liberia.

“Liberia ended its second civil war in 2003, so it’s a country still recovering from that period.  In the last days, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of Ivoirians coming across in the east of the country,” he says, “We have about 70,000-plus Ivoirians now in the east of the country.  It’s jungle. It’s very difficult road conditions.  Getting around, getting people help is extraordinarily difficult.”

Shrinking access to those in need

“The access we have as humanitarian workers is being squeezed hard, right now.  It’s very difficult to reach people.  We’re having to be creative and work with NGOs, who in some cases have better access than us, to get to people in need,” he says.

Edwards adds, “Take the situation inside Abidjan itself.  We have concerns about people still trapped inside Abobo.  We have all these displaced people, some of them in churches, others in other communal places.  We don’t know where they all are and there’s insecurity in several parts of the city. So, it’s getting increasingly difficult to reach these people.”

There are growing communication problems as well.  In Abobo, fighting has destroyed TV and SMS transmitters.

Refugee and IDP camps

“In Liberia, we have established a camp close to the town of Bahn,” says Edwards.  “And in addition to that, we have about 15 locations where we’re trying to centralize people.  But despite those efforts – and it is hard to get people to these places – we are seeing refugees moving into villages, communities.  Some of them have family there or friends.  There are about 70 to 80 villages in that border area that are hosting Ivoirians refugees at the moment,” he says.

The UNHCR was also building a camp in western Ivory Coast.

“We’ve had to suspend work [it] because of insecurity there.  We continue our operations, but in very difficult circumstances,” says Edwards.

Heavy fighting is reported in the west near Duekoue and Blolequin, about 90 kilometers to the south.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs