Amid continuing political uncertainty, WFP has confirmed that it would extend its relief operation for victims of the recent turmoil in Ivory Coast until the end of 2006 and appealed to the international community to maintain support for its humanitarian work.
“The world’s generous support has made a critical difference over the past 12 months, but the situation in Ivory Coast remains extremely fragile and many hundreds of thousands will still need assistance through next year,” said Mustapha Darboe, WFP Regional Director for West Africa.
WFP’s extended operation until December 2006 will require a further US$13.8 million to ensure the delivery of some 59,000 metric tonnes of food to about 900,000 people.
An attempted coup in September 2002 evolved into a rebellion that left Ivory Coast divided between north and south and over a million people displaced inside the country or in neighbouring states.
Some live in camps and are completely dependent on food aid, while others have seen a slow but steady deterioration in their ability to provide for themselves and their families.
Even if a peaceful path is found through the current political impasse in which elections scheduled for 30 October are now thought highly unlikely to take place, WFP will continue to face enormous challenges in Ivory Coast in 2006.
The situation in Ivory Coast remains extremely fragile and many hundreds of thousands will still need assistance through next year
Mustapha Darboe, WFP Regional Director for West Africa
WFP assistance is targeted at a wide section of the affected population in Ivory Coast and the neighbouring states of Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali.
As well as free food distributions to refugees and Ivorians displaced inside the country, further handouts are targeted to the vulnerable through nutritional centres for malnourished children and their mothers, the provision of free meals in schools and hospitals and rations for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The troubles in Ivory Coast over the past three years have crippled a country that was widely recognized as a regional powerhouse.
Continuing unrest in the country has enormous potential to destabilize the entire sub-region, with repercussions reverberating across several West African states.
In anticipation of any turn for the worse in the immediate future, WFP has designed a rapid response plan to ensure that the immediate needs of an escalated humanitarian crisis can be met as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“We hope that a speedy solution is found to the current deadlock, but WFP will be ready in the event that the situation deteriorates. Our regional approach to the situation in Ivory Coast means we will also be able to address any cross-border movements more quickly than might otherwise be the case,” said Darboe.