News / Africa

Ivory Coast: Aid Agencies Struggle to Help Displaced

A group of Ivorian refugees walk to the town of Gborplay in Liberia (File Photo)
A group of Ivorian refugees walk to the town of Gborplay in Liberia (File Photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

It’s estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 people have been displaced by the political turmoil and fighting in Ivory Coast.  Humanitarian agencies and NGOs are stretched thin trying to help.

Tens of thousands of refugees have crossed the border into Liberia, seeking shelter in villages and camps run by the United Nations.  Tuesday, the aid agency Oxfam flew in emergency supplies to help Ivorian refugees there.

Oxfam’s regional campaign and policy manager, Steve Cockburn, who is in Monrovia, says, “Oxfam has just shipped in supplies for about 70,000 people, water and sanitation supplies largely, to be set up in refugee camps along the border with Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia.  So it’s everything from hygiene kits to latrine slabs to drilling equipment.”

Oxfam plans to transport the supplies overland to Nimba County and Grand Gueddeh in the east.  It says camps are being readied there that could hold as many as 250,000 refugees.

“Oxfam is very involved in [the] set-up of those camps and especially making sure that water and sanitation supplies are provided to refugees,” says Cockburn.

Much left behind

Many of the Ivoirian refugees in Liberia had to leave their homes in a hurry and took little with them.

He says, “There are obviously a lot of distress and confusion and a real need for protection, for security, but also the basics of food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene.  So, at the moment, quite a lot are being looked after in host communities, which themselves have very poor facilities.  Others are spread around in make-shift shelters around forests and other areas along the border.

Cockburn describes the situation as “quite serious,” adding, “There’s a real need for action from NGOs, from donor governments, from U.N. agencies to really make sure that this effort’s stepped up and people get everything that they need.”

Good Samaritans need help, too

Oxfam is planning to provide seeds and agricultural support to host families, who have exhausted their own food stocks by feeding thousands of refugees.

“These communities will feel the stress and they will themselves need support.  So, Oxfam is involved working with other partners to make sure they receive…all the care and support that they need as well,” he says.

Evacuations

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is very involved in helping the displaced in Ivory Coast.  The Mauritanian government has asked the IOM for help in evacuating some of its citizens.

IOM spokesperson Jemini Pandya says, “From tomorrow (Wednesday), we’ll be evacuating more than 400 Mauritanian migrants, who’ve been basically camping out around the Mauritanian embassy in Abidjan.  They feel that they’ve been particularly targeted in Abidjan.  They want to leave and go back home as soon as possible.”

The embassy has already evacuated about 1800 Mauritanians by bus.  IOM estimates 40,000 Mauritanians live and work in Ivory Coast, with about 10,000 in Abidjan.

“Because they’re getting more and more people coming to ask for help, they’ve now turned to IOM to assist them and that’s what we’re doing,” she says.

There are security concerns when evacuating people by bus from the city.

“For quite some time now, humanitarian agencies have been targeted.  However, there has been some kind of a corridor that’s been set up.  I wouldn’t say it’s a humanitarian corridor, but some kind of a route through which we’ll be able to take a bus convoy to Nouakchott.

It’s expected to take the convoy about a week to arrive in Mauritania using the safer route.

“There are always risks attached to this, but the migrants were desperate to leave,” says Pandya, adding that they lacked shelter, food and water.

Ghana and Guinea

Liberia is the neighboring country with the largest number of Ivoirians refugees, about 90,000.  But for the first time, Ghana is starting to see a trickle of Ivoirian refugees cross its border.  About 100 people arrived last Friday and Saturday.

“They’re all being forced to move and, at the end of the day, they all need protection and assistance, humanitarian assistance…for now…but also for the long term because they all had to leave their businesses, their jobs, their savings, their belongings as they flee,” she says.

Thousands Ivoirian refugees and Guinean migrants have also crossed the border into Guinea.  She says they are “continuing to stay in the border areas in the forest region of Guinea because they want to stay close to their homes, their lands, their business, their cattle, which are in Cote d’Ivoire.”

However, there’s no infrastructure in the region to support the displaced.

“We’re urgently also asking for funding to allow us to be able to look at long-term livelihood solutions for them that would allow them to look after themselves in the time to come, but also to help refurbish and rebuild infrastructure along these border areas,” she says.

Meanwhile....

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, through local partners, began distributing aid in Abidjan this past weekend.  However, it says, “the difficulties in doing so continue to be compounded by problems of insecurity and the resulting limited humanitarian access.”

So far, they’ve been able to reach about 10,000 people.  But access to the Abobo and Anyama districts has been “particularly problematic.”  Humanitarian agencies have appealed to donors for funds to meet emergency needs in Ivory Coast.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs