15 June 2011
As the security situation in the Ivory Coast remains precarious, the Red Cross has been distributing food, seeds and other vital aid in 35 villages in the west of the country.
The aid will help around 20,000 people displaced by violence and looting over the past few months, as well as some 17,000 family members who’ve taken them in.
"Many of the people we are helping have lost a close relative or have been traumatised by what they experienced," said Grégoire Castella, in charge of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) activities in the area. "The displaced people are apprehensive about returning to their homes. Some say they lost everything in the looting."
Ongoing humanitarian needs
"This area around Bangolo in the west of the country is somewhat forgotten, as access is difficult and local people are rather wary of international organisations," said Grégoire. "But the need for humanitarian aid is considerable."
The Ivory Coast Red Cross, with support from the ICRC, has distributed:
- 220 tonnes of rice
- 45 tonnes of beans
- 22,000 litres of oil
- 2,300 kilograms of salt
- 3,000 kits containing such essential items as tarpaulins, sleeping mats, soap, kitchen utensils and buckets.
In addition to this emergency aid, the Red Cross is helping families recover and start providing for themselves again by providing:
- 6,000 hoes
- 100 tonnes of rice seed
- 50 tonnes of maize seed.
Similar items were already distributed in 13 villages in the area in February.
People have nothing left
In several parts of western Ivory Coast, especially near the border with Liberia, the Red Cross is one of few humanitarian organisations able to reach people on a regular basis without military escorts.
The head of a family that had taken in displaced people in Guéhouo, said: "We don't have much left in our larders, but it's hard to deny hospitality to someone – especially to women and children who have nothing left."
Red Cross support for refugees in Liberia
During the conflict, tens of thousands of Ivorian refugees fled to Liberia, putting a tremendous strain on food, water and healthcare resources in communities along the border. Many refugees remain in these host communities as they are uncertain and worried about returning to the Ivory Coast.
The Liberian Red Cross has been providing support for refugees and host communities by:
- constructing pit latrines
- carrying out hygiene education
- rehabilitating or constructing wells
- helping reunite families separated during the conflict
- distributing relief items as well as farming tools and seeds, including cash for seeds
- providing first aid for wounded or sick refugees and host communities’ residents
Since December, the British Red Cross has donated almost £500,000 from its Disaster Fund to help vulnerable people affected by the conflict, including both refugees and those in the Ivory Coast. It also launched an appeal, as much more money is needed. Please donate today and help thousands of people in a desperate situation.
The Ivory Coast Crisis Appeal will cover numerous countries including those currently affected and those potentially affected in the future. In the unlikely event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.