Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Political deadlock continues in Côte d’Ivoire and the number of displaced people grows

United Nations refugee agency set up a new camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in western Côte d’Ivoire who fled their homes as a result of violence and uncertainty related to the current post-election political crisis in the West African country. 
“Humanitarian conditions have deteriorated with the shortage of shelter and our hope is that the new camp will ease pressure, in particular for the most vulnerable,” Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva. The agency has so far registered a total of 38,600 IDPs in western Côte d’Ivoire.

The new camp is located near the town of Duékoué, and will accommodate up to 6,000 people, easing crowding at a nearby Roman Catholic mission of Sante Thérèse, Filles de Marie Auxiliatrice / Communauté Salésiens de Don Bosco (SDB) Diocese de Man, where many of the IDPs are accommodated. Heavy rainfall last week destroyed a number of makeshift shelters in the mission compound prompting UNHCR to provide tents to some of the displaced families.

Refugées à la mission catholique de Duékoué, Diocese de Man, Moyen-Cavally - Côte d’Ivoire

Many of the IDPs have been surviving on the generosity of local families and charities. In Danané, Binhouye and Zouan-Hounien districts, more than 8,600 IDPs are staying with local families, some of whom are sheltering up to 25 people each and struggling to make ends meet.
Most of those displaced in western Côte d’Ivoire fled their homes in mid-December and early January as a result of ethnic tension and violence sparked by the presidential elections held in November.
The country has been in turmoil since early December when outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office despite opposition leader Alassane Ouattara’s UN-certified victory in the run-off poll. Mr. Ouattara has been recognized by the international community as the duly elected president.

The basic structure of Ivorian politics since 2000 or so is the very apparent north-south divide. The south, fertile and green, is largely Christian. It is the centre of the cocoa and coffee economy which made the country’s fortune until the 1990s. The north – the northwest in particular, is drier and largely Muslim. 
In Duékoué, the IDPs told UNHCR that they have no homes to go back to because their houses were torched and their property looted. Others alleged that they had been subjected to violence, including sexual assault, as well as arbitrary detention by armed groups acting with impunity.

Fear of retaliation, lack of law enforcement and dysfunctional judicial institutions have prevented many people from reporting abuses.


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