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news | May 19, 2011 | Côte d'Ivoire | Emergency

Responding to the humanitarian crisis in Cote d'Ivoire

A girl drinks water at a damaged street in Yopougon May 4, 2011. © REUTERS AlertNet/Luc Gnago 2011

Since December 2010, Cote d’Ivoire has been going through a serious crisis. At its origin, an electoral battle, and the situation degenerated into violence that has claimed 462 lives according to the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and has led to human rights violations. Access to basic services has been endangered by a lasting crisis, affecting health, education, agriculture and the economy, with important humanitarian consequences on the population.

Abidjan, the economic capital, has been the stage of violent attacks between political parties. The situation is slowly getting quieter, particularly since 11 April, the day the outgoing president was arrested. After weeks of crises and violence, the people of Abidjan now have to manage with persisting shortages that have been worsened by the return of populations who had fled the fighting. The exponential price growth has limited families’ access to basic food items, as well as essential goods and medicine. Banks have only just reopened, but insecurity has been bringing down a return to normal life. Families who stayed around Abidjan are now the main victims of food insecurity, according to studies led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in April.

Rising vulnerability

Since the start of the crises, ACTED has carefully been following the evolution of the situation, the displacements and the needs of populations that have been confronted with violence for weeks. An ACTED emergency team has been on the spot, and particularly in Abidjan, since early April. It has managed to evaluate and follow the situation and identify humanitarian priorities in the populated areas of the capital that have gone through clashes and subsequent wide scale displacement, as well as in host areas.

In these parts of the city, almost 65% of inhabitants have fled their homes, which had been ransacked or destroyed. Many are now homeless, with no livelihoods, and have trouble getting basic food items such as manioc or flour on the markets, though some businesses have reopened in the last few days. Without any resources, families have to call upon family support, sell their means of production or borrow enough to feed themselves.

Addressing food insecurity

With a strong capacity to respond to similar emergency situations at regional or global levels, ACTED is mobilized to support populations affected by the crisis, and to contribute to a return to a normal situation in Abidjan. The objective is to avoid extreme vulnerability morphing into isolation and definitive impoverishment, and to help communities rebuild.

ACTED teams will be following the situation and the food insecurity issue very closely in order to offer quick and appropriate interventions to victims of violence in Cote d’Ivoire, and to help them get back to decent living conditions and resume livelihood activities. ACTED is now present in the Abidjan area, but teams are also mobilized in other regions that have been affected by the crisis, including Moyen-Cavally, in order to consider a multi-sector and multi-area, sustainable humanitarian approach.