Top Story of the Week: West African Political Crisis Prompts Aid Appeal, Suspensions

The U.N. has launched a USD32.7 million aid appeal= to support its humanitarian work in West Africa. The money will be used primarily to address the needs of more than 25,000 people who fled Cote d’Ivoire due to the political deadlock there.

Cote d’Ivoire has been in crisis since late last year following the refusal of Laurent Gbagbo to hand over government control to rival Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the country’s presidential election in November 2010.

The crisis and the ensuing violence have prompted donors to suspend their assistance to the impoverished West African country. These donors include the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Bank while the African Development Bank said it is reviewing its program in the country. The International Monetary Fund has noted it will only deal with the Ivorian government recognized by the U.N. The African Union has also suspended Cote d’Ivoire. Several countries have advised against non-essential travel to the country and banned financial transactions with Gbagbo.

Following the increasing number of internally displaced Ivorians and refugees to Liberia and other neighboring countries, the U.N. and its partner aid agencies have ramped up their humanitarian operations. Logistical challenges, however, are preventing them from reaching some of the regions where most refugees and IDPs have settled.

In addition to aid appeals, suspensions and increased humanitarian work, the Ivorian political crisis has prompted discussions on the merits of making democracy a precondition for economic assistance. At least one observer has highlighted the case of the World Bank, which has been subject to past criticisms over its vague stance on democracy. David Bosco of Foreign Policy says the bank’s decision to suspend its program in Ivory Coast might be a step toward strengthening its position on democracy but noted that it is “hard to tell” for sure because the bank does lend billions to other nondemocratic governments.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.