Aid reaching IDPs in Abidjan but insecurity still a major challenge
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 15 March 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, via local implementing partners, began aid distribution in Abidjan this past weekend to some of the many thousands of people who have fled fighting. However the difficulties in doing so continue to be compounded by problems of insecurity and the resulting limited humanitarian access. On Monday, new fighting was reported in the city's commercial district of Yopougon, and overall the situation for Abidjan's residents and humanitarian workers alike remains fragile.
Despite this, UNHCR and its partners and other organizations have so far been able to reach over 10,000 IDPs, although getting to people staying with friends and relatives or in the districts of Abobo and Anyama remains particularly problematic. Of the estimated 300,000 people displaced in Abidjan, UNHCR and its partners have so far identified some 18,000 people in groups spread across 24 sites, and 19,000 others amid clusters of host families.
The aid we have been handing out consists of non-food items (blankets, mats, tents, mosquito nets and soap). In addition, the IDPs are receiving food provided by the World Food Programme, as well as medicine donated by UNICEF and the International Federation of the Red Cross.
Currently there are numerous check-points around the city manned by self-defence groups from both political camps. In Yopougon our partners have been physically prevented from delivering aid, which is directly impacting people in need of help. At an IDP site in Yopougon, 314 people have been reported ill. We were told that a woman had had to give birth without medical support, while an eight-year-old boy with asthma was said to have died.
In addition, aid distributions scheduled for early this week in villages surrounding Abidjan have been postponed as a result of the new fighting in Abobo and Yopougon, which are the only access routes to these villages.
Despite these conditions, our humanitarian partners continue to discover new pockets of IDPs in and around Abidjan, as well as in Akoupé, Yamoussoukro and Jaqueville in south-east and eastern Côte d'Ivoire.