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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.