Top UN officials set to attend talks on Côte d'Ivoire next week in Paris

Top UN officials set to attend talks on Côte d'Ivoire next week in Paris

With the humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorating in Côte d'Ivoire, top United Nations officials will head to Paris next week for a talks aimed at ending the ongoing conflict.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, will lead a UN team to the talks, set to open next Wednesday. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalomoh will also attend.

The talks, organized by the French Government, are expected to bring together the political parties and rebel groups.

Meanwhile, UN agencies working on the ground in Côte d'Ivoire are scrambling to deal with a raft of humanitarian crises, including massive population displacements sparked by clashes in the western part of the country and recent violations of the ceasefire in the north, as well as the threat of rising epidemics and possible starvation.

In Geneva, the World Food Programme (WFP) invited the parties to the talks in Paris to include humanitarian matters on their agenda and to bring up the issue of allowing access for humanitarian agencies to conflict zones and insecure regions of the country.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the scale of displacement in Côte d'Ivoire is enormous: the agency said it now believes that more than 1 million people have been driven from their homes due to the conflict. In addition, over 23,000 Ivorian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, and 129,000 third-country nationals are returning home to the neighbouring countries of Liberia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana.

In other news, an emergency health coordinator dispatched to the region by the World Health Organization (WHO) was expected to arrive today. The agency reports some 70 cases of cholera, including 15 deaths, since late December. Measles, yellow fever and meningitis are also of concern.