By Ademola Alao in Côte d’Ivoire
“I am happy today because I will no longer be sleeping on bare floor or run to our neighbors when rain falls,” says an old woman who was one of the many displaced by the recent political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.
The Red Cross of Côte d’Ivoire (RCCI), with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has rolled out the first phase of its emergency assistance to some of the people affected by the crisis that followed the controversial results of the 2010 presidential elections in the country.
Relief items including shelter kits were distributed to almost 1,000 families from 17 communities in the Toulépleu Prefecture in the west of the country.
“We decided to distribute relief items including sleeping mats, kitchen sets, jerry cans, buckets, clothing materials, and shelter kits from the Swiss Red Cross, because we realized that these are the immediate needs for those who have returned to their homes,” says Aliou Boly, West Africa emergency coordinator of the IFRC. “The items especially the shelter kits would assist them in the process of restarting their lives.”
In most of the program’s target communities, almost three out of five houses were partially or completely destroyed during the crisis with residents either seeking refuge in the bush or in neighboneighring Liberia.
In Toulépleu village, people assembled at the distribution point as early as 7am for the distribution scheduled for three hours later.
The Prefet of Toulépleu said the shelter initiative was a vital contribution in efforts to allow more people to return from other parts of the country and Liberia. “I hope that together we will be able to meet to the humanitarian needs that will follow their return. Thank you very much for your support.”
Though the first phase of the operation was meant for relief distribution based on earlier assessments, it was discovered that the need for shelter was more extensive as residents who fled have started returning and looking to their National Society and IFRC for assistance.
Aliou Boly says that additional registration sessions had to be organised. “We had to do this contribute to rebuilding social cohesion and peaceful co-existence among the dwellers,” he says. “We shall continue to assist the newly returned and registered families in need of relief and shelter assistance.”
The IFRC launched an appeal on 17 June, 2011 seeking CHF 6,702,008 to assist 60,000 people affected by the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.