Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Côte d'Ivoire: an uncertain return

Publisher International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Publication Date 31 August 2012
Cite as International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Côte d'Ivoire: an uncertain return, 31 August 2012, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The situation is still tense in the rural west of the country, and many of the people affected by the recent conflict are destitute, particularly after returning to their home villages following displacement. The ICRC has enabled 5,000 of them to find housing. The organization is also improving communities' access to health care, reuniting children with their parents, and visiting detainees.

"Displaced people and refugees are now gradually returning to their home areas, but their return is often fraught with difficulties," says Dominique Liengme, who heads the ICRC delegation in Abidjan. "They often need help to rebuild their houses and get back into an economic activity with which they can provide for themselves." The ICRC is focusing its efforts on helping the neediest communities in the west of the country to regain self-sufficiency.

A roof over their head

A huge number of houses in the villages near Blolequin, Bin-Houyé, Zouan-Hounien and Sago were destroyed during the conflict. The ICRC has been working with the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire, building 540 new houses and repairing almost 260 others. Some 5,000 people who have gone back home thus have a roof over their head. The final roof work on the housing for the last of the beneficiaries will be completed by mid September, after which the keys will be handed over.

Community health care

"The people living north of Blolequin still have no access to health centres," says Ms Liengme. "Working together with the Red Cross Society we have made a mobile clinic available to them in order to provide minimum health care. More than 30,000 consultations have been carried out since January." Over 7,500 children under five and pregnant women have been vaccinated.

The ICRC has upgraded and equipped the hospital in Blolequin and the health centre in Péhé (Toulepleu region). It has also delivered medicines, medical supplies and disposables to the hospitals in Blolequin and Toulepleu and to the three health centres in Zéaglo, Doké and Sahibli.

Reuniting families

For many families who were dispersed during the fighting, getting in touch with their loved-ones means everything to them, but they are often unable to do this on their own, particularly the children," says Ms Liengme.

Working together with the ICRC, the Red Cross Societies of Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Guinea have given these people the opportunity to contact their families either by telephone or through the Red Cross message system to let them know that they are still alive. Since the end of the post-election crisis, some 560 children who were separated from their families have been able to contact their parents. The ICRC has also reunited over 130 children with their families. In addition, the organization takes measures to find out what has happened to people who are still missing.

Micro-economic initiatives for women on their own with children

In the towns of Blolequin and Duékoué, 80 women have received support through income-generating projects that they designed themselves. With dependent children and absent husbands, they have become the heads of their families. By providing financial support and giving them business training, the ICRC enables them to set up micro-enterprises, which guarantee them regular incomes with which they can provide for their needy families. These initiatives cover various commercial activities (selling fish or spices or producing hand-made soap or cassava-based foods).

Aid for farmers

Over 60,000 people in the west of the country have benefited from work carried out to clear cocoa and coffee plantations that were overgrown with scrub. "These fields had suffered from lack of upkeep, since many planters were forced to flee during the conflict," Ms Liengme explains. "Now that the plantations have been cleared, agricultural output will improve." The ICRC facilitated clearance work on over 13,000 hectares in Blolequin, Toulepleu and Zouan-Hounien departments.

Furthermore, seed (rice and maize), tools (hoes) and food (rice, beans, oil and salt) have been distributed to 37,000 returnees in the departments of Toulepleu, Blolequin, Bangolo, Danané and Sassandra (Sago sub-prefecture).

Visits to detainees

In the period from January to the end of July 2012, the ICRC carried out 62 visits in 51 places of detention, reaching 5,200 detainees in Côte d'Ivoire. The delegates monitored the individual cases of some 280 people – detainees who had been arrested in connection with the post-election crisis and needy people (indigent people, women and minors).

Now that the prisons are gradually being reopened after the crisis, the ICRC can hold talks with the (often newly appointed) authorities on ways and means of improving detention conditions, particularly regarding access to food and health care. The ICRC is working primarily in seven prisons, thus covering about 75% of the prison population in Côte d'Ivoire.

Training Ivorian Red Cross volunteers

In 2012, the ICRC trained over 250 volunteers, mainly in first aid. The newly trained volunteers then in turn carried out awareness work in 7,600 households, teaching good practices regarding hygiene, water treatment, HIV-AIDS or bushfires.

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