Hundreds of thousands still displaced from Ivory Coast war

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2011 11:37 AM
Hundreds of thousands still displaced from Ivory Coast war

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Ivorians displaced by a post-election civil war this year remain too afraid of reprisals to go home and some are living in squalid conditions, increasingly in need of help, several aid agencies warned this week.

Although some half a million Ivorians have returned to their homes since the end of the conflict in April, 450,000 Ivorians remain displaced inside and outside the country -- the world's top cocoa grower -- according to a report by aid agencies Oxfam, the Danish Refugee Council and Care.

The International Rescue Committee said on Wednesday some of the displaced were sheltering in communities within Ivory Coast while others were in camps in neighboring Liberia.

"Six months on, the majority of the 170,000 Ivorians who fled to Liberia are reluctant to go back due to persisting insecurity in parts of western Ivory Coast and concerns about targeted attacks by ethnic or political rivals. They remain in precarious conditions in camps and communities," the IRC said in a statement.

Ivory Coast's five-month post-election crisis ended when former president Laurent Gbagbo, who tried to cling on to power despite losing an election in November, was ousted by forces loyal to current President Alassane Ouattara.

Insecurity remains a headache for Ouattara, particularly in the volatile west, where ethnic militias still roam.

The United Nations has expressed concern about ongoing abuses by Ivorian troops loyal to Ouattara, including looting, rape and summary executions, despite six months of overall peace.

The report by Oxfam, the Danish Refugee Council and Care, which was released on Tuesday, said there was a significant humanitarian crisis and that the west of the country would need "sustained support for some time to come."

It noted that less than a third of the U.N. appeal for emergency aid for Ivorian refugees had been met.

"Amongst those interviewed, food is the overwhelming priority ... 83 percent of displaced people saying they do not have enough to eat," it said, adding that shelter was also a concern because many homes had been destroyed.

Ivory Coast's southwest has been fraught with ethnic strife for decades, largely centered on land rights between indigenous tribes and the migrants who now make up the backbone of Ivory Coast's cocoa industry.

Tensions between the two groups reignited during last November's election -- and the bloodiest fighting of the conflict outside of Abidjan was in the far west.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Matthew Jones)