News / Africa

Ivory Coast: Getting Out Alive

Refugees, who fled the post-election instability in Ivory Coast, wait to be registered at a camp in Liberia
Refugees, who fled the post-election instability in Ivory Coast, wait to be registered at a camp in Liberia

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The rising violence in Ivory Coast means more people are trying to get out of the country. It’s estimated the number of displaced within Ivory Coast and refugees in neighboring countries is between 300,000 and 400,000 people.

The International Office for Migration [IOM] is helping the displaced find safe haven. Spokesperson Jemini Pandya says, “There’s been very large-scale displacement within Abidjan since fighting really increased a few weeks ago. It’s extremely difficult to be able to go and assess the real scale of the displacement because the security conditions are too bad and also because of the targeting of humanitarian aid workers.”

But she adds, “One thing that our staff on the ground in Abidjan are saying is that the city is rapidly emptying, [with people] finding any way they can to get out and escape the violence. They’re leaving on public buses, vans, cars, taxis – anything they can find basically to reach their home villages.”

Conditions have also worsened for civilians in western Ivory Coast.

“IOM has now had to also evacuate its remaining staff… in the west, where there’s been significant internal displacement… because of the conflict,” says Pandya.

Asking for help

Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mauritania have all asked the IOM for help in evacuating their nationals from Ivory Coast.

“The requests from Mali, Liberia and Burkina Faso came actually at the start of the year, when the crisis already had reared its head. It had been going for some few weeks and they had put in a formal request then,” she says.

“We are also working with the neighboring governments [in] Guinea and Ghana, as well, to help in the reception and reintegration of those people who have already left Cote d’Ivoire and crossed their borders. But it doesn’t mean to say that IOM will not be also asked by these other countries to also help their nationals return home,” she says.

Most recently, the IOM has been evacuating hundreds of Mauritanians from Abidjan at the request of their government.

“The first IOM convoy… left last Friday and they reached Bamako in Mali on Sunday, despite many, many roadblocks and insecurity along the route. So, now we’re evacuating, hopefully, either today or tomorrow, another 470 Mauritanians. But we also are aware that there are at least 650 more Mauritanians, who are… registered with us to be returned home, who will also need evacuation assistance,” says Pandya.

Mali has now informed the IOM that 20,000 of its citizens, who are migrant workers in Abidjan, need help in leaving the city.

“Now among them,” she says, "is a priority group of about 100 women and children who arrived at the embassy over the weekend urgently asking for us to help them go home. And we’ve also been referred 800 Burkinabe migrants who need help to go back home.”

Pandya says this may only be the beginning of requests to help foreigners leave Ivory Coast. “We have to be able to respond to these requests as soon as possible,” she says.

All this costs money

Does IOM have the resources it needs to meet all the requests for evacuations? Pandya says, “The answer is definitely no. It requires an awful lot of financial resources as well to be able to carry out evacuations, whether it’s by land or by air. And we have had very minimal response to an initial appeal we put out in January. A very modest figure of three and a half million [dollars] is what we asked for then.”

IOM says it has received just over one million dollars so far, most of it from the U.S. government. A revised appeal is expected within a few days requesting a higher amount due to the worsening situation in Ivory Coast.

Across the border

In neighboring Liberia, it’s estimated there are between 70,000 and 90,000 Ivorian refugees. Tuesday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, visited the country, including Nimba County, where most of the Ivoirians are located. UNHCR has set up several camps for them.

Oxfam is one of many aid agencies in Liberia. Spokesman Olivier Germain says it’s focusing on providing clean water and sanitation. A week ago, it brought in enough emergency supplies for about 70,000 people.

Those supplies are being transported to the bordering counties with Ivory Coast to be able to respond to the need and provide basic water and sanitation services to the refugees in the camps and the centers being set up there.

Oxfam, like the IOM, is appealing to donors to contribute more money to deal with the crisis.

Germain says, “We’re also encouraging UNHCR and other partners to provide necessary transport to move the refugees… along the border and… those who want to move further inland to a safer location, where the humanitarian agencies can provide more sustainable services in terms of shelter, water, sanitation and food.”

You May Like

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs