Côte d'Ivoire: UN relief official meets with displaced persons
Over the weekend, Ms. McAskie met with internally displaced persons, as well as Liberian refugees, temporarily sheltered in churches and mosques, and others stranded under trees or amidst debris, according to an update issued today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
"We will continue to pressure the Government to stop this destruction and to treat its citizens and foreign guests in a more humane manner," she said, promising to convey their plight to the UN. Ms. McAskie also spoke about the ethnic dimension of the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire, which had been a model for social tolerance and economic productivity until a coup attempt on 19 September 2002.
The UN estimates that as many as 1 million people have been displaced within Côte d'Ivoire and more than 120,000 have fled to neighbouring countries in the wake of the coup and the subsequent destruction of several shantytowns in Abidjan by Government authorities. No alternative housing or compensation has been provided since.
During her month-long mission to the region, Ms. McAskie aims to negotiate humanitarian access to vulnerable populations and to focus international attention on the crisis. Later this week, she is scheduled to visit camps for displaced people before proceeding to neighbouring countries affected by the crisis.