COTE D'IVOIRE: Increasingly Untenable Situation for Tens of Thousands of Displaced in Western Cote d'Ivoire

Friday, April 1, 2011
International Organization for Migration
Western Africa
Ivory Coast
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Human Rights

Conditions for tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) seeking refuge at a Catholic mission in the western Cote d'Ivoire town of Duékoué without access to food, water and shelter, are becoming increasingly untenable says IOM.

A priest at the mission informed IOM that the majority of the displaced haven't eaten for two days and that 80,000 food rations are urgently needed as are kitchen sets.

He also highlighted to IOM the urgent need to remove bodies lying in the streets in the town and close to the mission.

Medical supplies were among priority needs, particularly as there were a number of displaced, including women hit by stray bullets, requiring medical care and attention. There are no medical facilities available in Duékoué.

The water situation had, nevertheless, improved with the resumption of electricity supplies powering a water pump.

There is, however, growing concern over pregnant women at the site who need to be urgently relocated to safer areas.

With massive overcrowding at the mission, an alternative site for housing most of the displaced is being proposed though shelter and other humanitarian assistance would be necessary.

An undetermined number of people have also sought refuge at another site close to the UN Mission to Cote d'Ivoire's camp in the town.

IOM has also learnt that thousands of people who had fled Duékoué in the past few days towards Guiglo are now stranded along the route, in fear for their lives and wanting to return to Duékoué.

With the priests at the Catholic mission and others in Duékoué demanding urgent help from the humanitarian world, an inter-agency evaluation mission that includes the governor of Man as well as IOM, is due to head to Duékoué today security conditions permitting.

The governor, accompanied by a community elder among the displaced, had already gone to assess the needs of thousands of people grouped around Péhé, including several hundred pregnant women. Among them are a group of 2,000 IDPs reportedly attacked last weekend by mercenaries. During the attack, three of the displaced were allegedly killed, women raped and belongings stolen.

Elsewhere, in Abidjan, heavy fighting has meant IOM has been unable to evacuate a third group of up to 600 more Mauritanians this week as planned. They will be assisted once security conditions permit.

IOM has been asked to evacuate more than 50,000 stranded migrants from Cote d'Ivoire to Mauritania, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali.

The Organization is also continuing to assist those crossing borders into neighbouring countries to flee the violence in Cote d'Ivoire and has planned to assist up to 100,000 migrants in the next six months.