Crisis recedes, but Ivorians fear return home

Displaced Ivorians

After nearly five months of a political impasse in the Côte d’Ivoire , leading to the death of 500 people and the displacement of 1 million, life in the West African country is slowly returning to normal.

Schools are re-opening as well as banks, but there are still pockets of violence inside the country. Just last Friday, two mass graves were unearthed in a poor suburb in the capital of Abidjan, heightening fears of reprisals. Meanwhile, many people, traumatized by the war, remain in hiding.

Jocelyne Sambira has the story.

Duration: 2’22”

With the recent post election violence in Côte d’Ivoire , hundreds of thousands of people in the cocoa rich district of Duekoue have had to flee their homes.

Many of the displaced spent several days in the forest before finding shelter in a Catholic Mission.

The place is now overcrowded, with more than 28 000 people. Among the displaced is Beatrice, who lost her husband in the violence. She now lives alone in the camp with her nine children.

“If we’re lucky we have someone who comes by and present their condolences and give us a little money that I give to my children to eat. Most of the time, we spend here on the floor mat, we try and make a living but we have nothing to eat.”

In the Dekoue camp, more than 2,500 children under five are in need of assistance.

UNICEF’s partner Action Contre la Faim or ACF monitors the children’s health and provides them with a portion of nutritional porridge everyday day.

Jean Herman Boue, ACF’s canteen supervisor, wishes he could do more:

“It’s unfortunately not enough. We would like to complete this porridge portion with some fruits but with the situation here we can’t find any in the city market. We’d like to give children more for their well being.”

UNICEF and its partners are working to meet the immediate needs of the displaced. They have made health and sanitation one of their top priorities.

The camps are particularly vulnerable to the spread of diseases like cholera, as Odilon Clement, ACF’s Distribution supervisor has experienced:

“There was a sanitation issue prior to the crisis in those villages; the increase of the population exacerbates those issues.”

The people in displaced camps, although they live in difficult and precarious conditions, are luckier than most people who fled the conflict.

Many live in forests or in remote villages where humanitarian organizations cannot reach them.

And even though the crisis is receding in Côte d’Ivoire , many are still afraid to come out of hiding.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

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December 2017
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