Humanitarian situation throughout Côte d'Ivoire worsening - UN
Intensifying violence and instability in the country's lawless west - especially in areas near the border with Liberia - are making it increasingly difficult for aid workers to reach civilians desperately in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
OCHA said conditions in northern rebel-controlled areas suffer for lack of public services and a strangled economy, and even in the government-controlled south, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the communities who host them face deepening economic and health crises.
Along with the dangers and unpredictable situation in the west, humanitarian aid workers continue to grapple with large numbers of IDPs. The World Food Programme (WFP) said that there are currently some 37,000 IDPs in the district of Guiglo, and between 40,000 and 50,000 IDPs in the nearby district of Duekoue, where little humanitarian assistance is available. Continuing violence has prompted tens of thousands of people, including third-country nationals, Ivoirians and Liberian refugees, to flee both into Liberia - where they are now trapped in fighting that has broken out near the town of Zwedru - as well as into Government-controlled areas in the south.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was concerned that Liberian refugees in Nicla camp, outside of Guiglo, and in the transit centres of Abidjan are being recruited - sometimes by force - into armed groups. UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working with local authorities to evaluate sites for temporary shelter and aid for the displaced now in Guiglo.
Humanitarian conditions in the north, largely controlled by Mouvement Patriotique de Côte d'Ivoire (MPCI) rebels, are also worrisome, OCHA said. WFP reported that commercial farmers in the area - now cut-off from access to southern markets to sell crops such as cotton - are at high risk of food insecurity. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), meanwhile, was sending a convoy of medical supplies to the north, as the situation of children in the Bouna and Bondoukou districts is " near catastrophic" due to a breakdown in the health system, including a lack of vaccination campaigns.