In Ivory Coast, Civilians Intimidated to Refuse Aid

With political-related violence escalating in Ivory Coast, civilians are reportedly being intimidated to refuse aid from the United Nations and local aid groups, according to relief workers.

“Some of the displaced that we have reached have refused aid. They had been told ‘you can’t take any aid from the U.N. or you’ll be in trouble’. Even local NGOs have become targets so long as they are viewed as helping the U.N. deliver aid,” Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told AlertNet from Geneva. 

The fighting in Ivory Coast started in mid-December following the refusal of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo to hand over power to the U.N.-backed winner of November’s election, Alassane Ouattara. 

Lejeune-Kaba also said both pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces are now targeting aid agencies.

“Also, you have some bandits taking advantage of the chaos to harass people. Now we’re just scrambling to help where it is possible to help. But we find people may be too frightened to receive our aid,” Lejeune-Kaba said.

UNHCR has warned that humanitarian needs of people fleeing the violence have “gone largely overlooked.” The agency is considering launching a new aid appeal this week. 

>> Ivorian Post-election Violence, a Forgotten Crisis?

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About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.