News

First line actions to support displaced people in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia

March 31, 2011

After the presidential election on November 28, 2010, as a result of which the international community recognized the victory of Alassane Ouattara as President of the Republic, Côte d'Ivoire is experiencing growing violence. Laurent Gbagbo has refused to give up the presidency. This crisis has exacerbated an extremely fragile existing situation and the country has now plunged into a serious political and humanitarian crisis.

©UNICEF/Asselin

In recent weeks, fighting intensified between forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters who are struggling to maintain their positions in Duékoué and in the towns of Daloa in west-central region and Bondoukou in the east. Pro-Ouattara fighters have taken control of Abengourou, a town only 220km north-east of Abidjan, the capital and economic heart of the power of the Gbagbo regime, that has never been so under threat in the last four months.

According to the UN, this post-election crisis has already claimed more than 460 lives and threatens to plunge Côte d'Ivoire into civil war.

While nearly one million people have been displaced, 60% of them women and children, and some 112,000 inhabitants have fled to Liberia, the UN is preparing for a large influx of refugees to Ghana. The number of refugees is increasing and could reach 150,000 by the end of May.

The humanitarian impact of the political crisis continues to deepen. Several health facilities have closed, vaccination programs have been suspended and certain essential drugs and vaccines are already out of stock in a number of health facilities.

Within a few weeks the arrival of the rainy season could further complicate the situation, slowing the delivery of equipment and making life more difficult for displaced people.

Faced with this grave humanitarian crisis, the Sanofi Espoir Foundation has decided to support UNICEF in implementing initial actions to aid victims of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia for an initial period running from March to June 2011.

This aid will enable medical activities that have just been started to continue, with a special focus on:

©UNICEF/Asselin

  • a joint UNICEF-WHO campaign of vaccination against measles among 654,936 children, and the distribution of 115 gas cylinders to Moyen Cavally, the Montagnes region, the Denguele-Bafing, the Worodougou and the Haut Sassandra, to avoid interrupting the cold chain,
  • distributing vitamin A to children in the displaced persons’ camp at Man and deworming tablets for 204 children in the Danane, Man and Duekoue camps,
  • distributing of 220 nets in displaced persons’ camps in West of the country, backed by awareness raising sessions on how to use them,
  • organizing awareness raising sessions on vital family practices for 103 people and distributing 20,000 bars of soap, and 60,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts,
  • delivering essential medicines to two displaced persons camps in Abidjan.

Since the beginning of hostilities, a crisis unit has been set up by sanofi-aventis and sanofi Pasteur teams in Abidjan (in conjunction with teams based in Dakar) to ensure the safety of all employees. The medical reps living in “high risk neighborhoods” including Abobo have been moved with their families. To date, the 54 employees of Abidjan and their families are all safe and no one has been injured.

Côte d’Ivoire+5 - Population movements and violences

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 23 Mar 2011