Côte dIvoire UN agency concerned about people displaced by clashes

As fighting rages on in Côte d’Ivoire, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today voiced concern about the continuing displacement of both Ivorians and foreigners throughout the country and in the administrative capital of Abidjan.“Obviously, our concern is that any large-scale displacement could spill over into neighbouring States and cause further instability in an already troubled region,” UNHCR spokesperson Millicent Mutuli said at a press briefing in Geneva.Over the weekend a UN inter-agency assessment mission found that the humanitarian situation in the northern part of the country seemed to be deteriorating by the day. The city of Bouaké appeared to be a ghost town, and thousands of people were reported fleeing the war-affected zones daily, with a clear increase over the weekend.The displaced persons were heading towards Brobo, M’bahiakro, Skassou, Didievi and the capital, Yamoussoukro, UN officials reported, adding that those fleeing urgently needed water, food and medication.Many people reported having walked as much as 50 kilometres, sometimes through the bush, while transport prices have soared around Bouaké. Catholic missions in and near the various villages on the way to and in Yamoussoukro have been assisting the displaced with food and temporary housing. After a few days of rest, most of the displaced continue on toward urban areas in Côte d’Ivoire, where they may have relatives. Many mentioned Abidjan as the final destination.A spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that the agency is continuing to fly in emergency food aid, especially high-energy biscuits, for persons displaced by the fighting. WFP is also stockpiling food aid in Burkina Faso and Ghana in preparation for a possible influx of Ivorians to those two neighbouring countries.Meanwhile, an emergency regional meeting is expected to take place in Accra, Ghana, at the end of this week to bring together UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, donor countries and the Red Cross, to study a common plan of action for Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ghana, Mali and Liberia.

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