Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commiserated with residents of an internally displaced persons' (IDP) camp in a suburb of Côte d'Ivoire's commercial capital, Abidjan, pledging that the United Nations will stand with them as they endeavour to rebuild their lives and restore stability in their country.
“I want you to know that my heart is with you all,” Mr. Ban told the IDPs at the Union des Eglises Evangéliques Services et Eouvres (UEESO) camp in the Cocody commune of Abidjan. “That is why I am here ? to express my solidarity with you, to offer help and hope that your lives will soon return to normal,” he added.
He assured them that the UN will continue providing basic services, such as water, food, shelter and health care and sanitation, to those displaced and others in need until they are able to return to their homes, stressing that no one will be compelled to return to their places of origin until they are ready to do so.
“This is a fundamental principle of international law. Again, let me say clearly: no one should feel that he or she must return home before he or she is ready. Forced returns are against the law,” said the Secretary-General.
He urged the IDPs not to lose hope in the face of the harsh realities of life the camp, telling them that Côte d'Ivoire is making a fresh start.
“You have a new President – a President who takes office by the will of the people, supported by the entire international community. The United Nations stood by your side during the recent crisis. We will continue to stand by you as your country rebuilds,” said Mr. Ban.
He said Côte d'Ivoire is rich in resources and in the spirit of its people, assuring the IDPs that the international community will help their country build democracy, create jobs and protect the human rights of all Ivoirians.
“I am confident that Côte d'Ivoire will once again become what it was not long ago – a pillar of strength, prosperity and peace for all of Africa,” the Secretary-General added.