Côte dIvoire UN partner agencies work to counter worrisome humanitarian situation

The United Nations and its partner relief agencies today reiterated concern for the “worrisome” humanitarian situation in Côte d’Ivoire, where they are working hard to help hundreds of thousands of people overcome insecurity, shortages of food and basic medicines, and other lingering effects of conflict and drought.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) joined non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) today in decrying the troubling humanitarian conditions throughout much of Côte d’Ivoire. OCHA said that public services were still not available in the northern part of the country and in the Government-controlled west, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without basic healthcare and threatening to deprive tens of thousands of children an education for the second consecutive year.Security also continues to be a major concern. OCHA cites Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s latest report to the UN Security Council, which identified a number of worrying trends, notably, the purchase of arms by the government and rebel forces. Other security concerns highlighted the activities of armed militias in Abidjan to undermine the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, the French-brokered peace accord signed last January, which calls on the government, rebels and political opposition to share power in a transitional government until elections in 2005. With the agricultural sector also severely affected – by conflict as well as by erratic rainfall in much of the country — the UN World Food Programme has been operating a number of programmes across the country tailored to help the most vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women, the mentally handicapped, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. The agency is also using school feeding programmes to gain access to vulnerable children, to encourage regular school attendance and help demobilize child soldiers. read more