Côte d’Ivoire Emergency: request of Support for the Victims of the Humanitarian Crisis

Project location: CôTE D'IVOIRE
Project start date: July 2011 - Project end date: October 2011
Project number: 2011-06
Beneficiary: UNHCR

UNHCR is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees, 80% of whom are women and children. UNHCR strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.
In more than five decades the agency, that has been awarded the Nobel Prize twice, has helped people restart their lives. Today, a staff of around 6,650 people in more than 116 countries continues to help 34.4 million people.

Furthermore UNHCR is often faced with a sudden emergency requiring an immediate response. That means the agency must be able to rush aid and experts to the affected zone without delay. At any given time, UNHCR has the capacity to respond to a new emergency impacting up to 500,000 people. The agency can also mobilize more than 300 trained personnel within 72 hours. Providing fleeing civilians with emergency help is often the first step towards their long-term protection and rehabilitation.

In March 2011 UNHCR reported that escalating insecurity in Cote d'Ivoire's Abidjan is seeing a sharp rise in displacement. Estimates are that between 700,000 and one million people could now be displaced; the security situation prevents normal UNHCR operations. Despite this situation, aid distribution and assistance are ongoing in Abidjan, mostly through local implementing partners, although they are themselves challenged by the insecurity that limits their access to internally displaced persons (IDPs). UNHCR and its partners have nevertheless been able to reach over 10,000 IDPs and have so far identified some 18,000 people in groups located in 25 sites, as well as 18,997 living with host families.

In line with its global mandate, UNHCR has taken the lead on the overall protection and assistance of refugees in Liberia in coordination with authorities and all partners involved. Assistance is provided to a majority of women and children, fleeing from Côte d'Ivoire due to political instability. As tensions are still unresolved in Côte d'Ivoire, further population movements are expected to take place during the coming weeks.

In eastern Liberia, UNHCR has so far registered some 90,000 refugees, of whom around half have arrived since February 24 after fresh fighting flared in western Côte d'Ivoire. Government sources and UNHCR partners say another 7,000 people have crossed the border but not yet registered.

The ongoing Ivorian crisis began after Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Côte d'Ivoire since 2000, claimed he had won the Ivorian election of 2010, the first election in the country in 10 years. The opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, and a number of countries, organisations and leaders worldwide claimed Ouattara had won the election.
Opposition figure Guillaume Soro stated that Gbagbo's security forces and Liberian mercenaries had waged a campaign of terror, and that death squads had been responsible for 200 deaths, 1,000 people wounded from gunfire, 40 disappearances and 732 arrests. Amnesty International said it had received increasing reports of atrocities in the country. By March 2011, an estimated 450,000 Ivorians had left the country, of which 370,000 were from the capital city of Abidjan. On 3 March, reports indicated Gbagbo had cut electricity and water supplies to areas of Outtara supporters.

The idea of submitting a funding request to the Nando Peretti Foundation raised from the recognition of the high sensitiveness always shown by the Foundation towards the needs of the most vulnerable people in the world, those affected by public or natural disasters.
The Côte d'Ivoire emergency represents an enormous humanitarian crisis, furthermore forgotten by most of the governments and media. The estimated budget is huge and the needs are tremendous: only with different private contributions many lives can be saved.

The worsening situation in Côte d'Ivoire has prompted UNHCR and its partners to revise the emergency response plan and review the basic planning parameters to respond to the humanitarian crisis generated by the massive influx of Ivorian refugees into Liberia. The plan includes all sectorial assistance requirements to ensure an adequate response to the immediate needs of the refugees and to improve and strengthen basic services in the local communities.

In Côte d'Ivoire most of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) registered are located in the west of the Country (Duekoué, Danane, Man, Bin Houye, Zouen Hounein, Guiglo district) staying with host families, in schools or churches. Some are hosted in religious missions, spontaneous settlements and with host communities in surrounding villages. The registration exercise carried out by UNHCR, IOM and UNFPA is now completed and will facilitate adequate assistance delivery. In addition, new groups of IDPs were identified along the Liberian border by UN organizations and NGOs operating in the area.

Violence continues in Abobo, a pro-Ouattara area in Abidjan, with several deaths and injuries reported. Security in the west of the country remains a concern; in particular in the area of Man and Duekoué. UNHCR and UNDSS are closely monitoring the situation.

With regards to the protection and assistance strategy, the objective is to move people away from the border area. It is expected that the majority of the refugees (70 %) will be accommodated in a refugee camp and the rest will be moved away from the border to designated villages. To accommodate the refugees in camps, UNHCR is planning for five refugee camps, each with a capacity to host some 20,000 refugees.

To facilitate the transport inland, UNHCR has established four transit centres and two way stations, and is planning to set up an additional 10 transit centres. Transit centres have an average capacity to host some 2,000 people for one or two weeks, while a way station has the capacity to accommodate some 500 refugees for a limited period of time. The United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL, is providing five trucks to support the relocation operation and UNHCR has airlifted 10 additional trucks into Liberia for the humanitarian assistance programme. Roads and bridges along the routes are being repaired. Up to a 100 people are being moved each day. To date more than 1,300 Ivorians have been relocated to the Bahn refugee camp, some 50 kms away from the border. Preparations for a 250-acre camp in Garwee are being accelerated in anticipation of further population movement. The authorities in Liberia are in the process of identifying three additional camp sites.

Given the ongoing refugee movement and prior to being transferred to the transit centre or way stations, refugees along the border need immediate humanitarian assistance. Immediate lifesaving interventions along the border will continue, including distribution of basic relief items, i.e. sleeping mats, blankets, jerry cans, hygiene items and plastic sheeting. Thus far, more than 20,000 refugees in the border area received food and basic relief items. In the border community of Buutuo, where most of the new arrivals are, partners have undertaken a preliminary health screening and set up a water treatment and distribution system.

In line with its mandate, UNHCR is leading the international community providing urgent protection and assistance to Ivorian refugees in Liberia. It is coordinating the response with the Liberian authorities, in particular the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission.

In particular, the project which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation is aimed at providing 180 families (720 people) with 180 tents, purchasing and distributing 180 survival kits including a sheet, a mattress, a bowl and soap as well as purchasing and distributing 720 blankets.
The items will be distributed in the above mentioned areas where UNHCR field staff identified the highest need of Non Food Items.

The foresee outcomes of the project are:
- 180 families (720 people) will be provided with tents, survival kits, and blankets.

think global, act local
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