Although the political stand-off in Côte d’Ivoire ended earlier this week, the humanitarian crisis spawned by months of violence continues, United Nations agencies and their partners stressed today as they appeal for $160 million to scale up aid to affected populations inside the country.
Today’s appeal represents a five-fold increase over the $32 million initially sought by aid agencies in January at the onset of the humanitarian crisis stemming from the fighting that ensued after Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off election last November to Alassane Ouattara.
Mr. Gbagbo finally surrendered on Monday after more than four months of turmoil in the West African nation. UN aid officials have estimated that up to 1 million Ivorians have been displaced by the violence, with some internally displaced and others forced to flee into neighbouring countries – particularly Liberia, which is hosting 135,000 Ivorians.
“The humanitarian crisis is not yet over,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire, Ndolamb Ngokwey. “All across the country, it will take many months to restore people’s dignity and rebuild livelihoods.
“Aid agencies will be here as long as it will take but we need to start now. We are asking for only $74 for each person affected,” he stated.
The $160 million appeal aims to provide food security, nutrition, education, protection, water, health care and sanitation to as many as two million people throughout Côte d’Ivoire. It will also allow UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, to significantly scale up relief programmes, notably in the commercial capital of Abidjan and in the west.
The appeal also seeks funding for aid to the north, an area that has received little attention during the past four months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Humanitarian agencies have also appealed for $146 million to address the needs of the Ivorians who have sought refuge in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) reports that the security situation in Abidjan is improving. In addition, water, electricity, and basic services have been restored in some areas, and businesses are re-opening and traffic is returning to the streets.
“I would not be surprised to see that cars, taxis will emerge increasingly in large numbers by the end of the week,” said Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOCI. “We will help encourage people to leave their homes and resume their activities,” he added.
In an effort to do just that, the mission organized a peace parade today in which a caravan of dozens of cars drove through the main streets of Abidjan to mark the improved security situation there.
Mr. Choi, who took part in the event, did acknowledge that some districts of the city were not yet secure, noting for example that there is still sniper fire in Yopougon. He also pledged that UNOCI will continue to help Côte d’Ivoire meet the challenges it faces.
Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for UNOCI, said that Abidjan had seemed like a ghost town for the past several weeks. “People were scared to go out while they were short of basic needs like food, water and medicine,” he told the UN News Centre.
“It [the parade] is a signal to encourage them to try and lead a normal life,” he said, adding that this was the right time to hold such an event since fighting has ended in the city and the post-electoral crisis has reached a turning point with the capture of Mr. Gbagbo.