Ivory Coast humanitarian response woefully underfunded

By llucas

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On the day Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara is officially inaugurated in front of heads of state from around the world, more than 300,000 people remain displaced from their homes within the country and in neighboring Liberia, and they are in dire need of assistance.

Months of violence have caused a severe humanitarian crisis, yet the UN appeals remain only 35 percent funded – with donors providing $200 million short of the amount needed.

In Ivory Coast, the relief response is only 28 percent funded, with $120 million still needed to support more than 200,000 displaced people who remain displaced, whose homes and farms have been destroyed or who are too afraid to return home.

In neighboring Liberia, the response is only 42 percent funded, with more than $80 million still needed to support more than 135,000 Ivorian refugees who are still living in camps or with local families. Between 200 and 400 people continue to arrive daily.
 
“The crisis is far from over,” said Oxfam’s Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Philippe Conraud. “There is an urgent need to improve the conditions of displaced people in Liberia and Ivory Coast, and to support those returning home to rebuild their lives. Only with a significant increase in funding from the international community will these needs be met.

Food is a particular concern. In Liberia, the majority of refugees continue to live with host communities, and scarce resources are running low. Oxfam assessments show that many families have been eating only once per day and others are forced to eat the seeds they will need for their next harvest. Four months since the launch of the first emergency appeal, thousands of refugees have not received food aid and the needs of local families hosting them have not been addressed.

In Ivory Coast, reports suggest that in many areas the last harvest was significantly disrupted by the conflict, while many of those returning may have missed the opportunity to plant crops for the coming year.

“Ivorian refugees continue to arrive in Liberia every day,” said Conraud. “Many of the people we speak to have spent weeks and months hiding in the forest, surviving on roots, leaves and fruit. They are arriving here tired, scared and in urgent need of assistance.

“There are many challenges ahead for the new government in the Ivory Coast but a priority has to be the urgent humanitarian needs of people who have been living in unacceptable conditions for months now.”

Oxfam has launched a response aiming to provide life-saving water, sanitation and food to more than 100,000 people in western Ivory Coast, one of the worst hit areas of the conflict, and is working in Liberia’s Grand Gedeh and Maryland regions, where over 80,000 refugees are residing.