The conflict in Côte d’Ivoire has not received much attention in the U.S., but what you have is a humanitarian crisis unfolding not just in that country, but also in neighboring Liberia.
When violence recently escalated in Côte d’Ivoire, many civilians were displaced and some fled to Liberia. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has the task of reaching hungry war victims in both countries.
WFP’s Regional Director Thomas Yanga says, “The number of refugees and internally displaced people is reaching worrying proportions and with violence against civilians continuing in Côte d’Ivoire it can only get worse. We are striving to feed hungry, displaced people and refugees, but our movements within Côte d’Ivoire are limited by insecurity and violence, and we are increasingly worried about the strain that refugees are placing on local communities in Liberia.”
A group of Ivorian refugees in northern Liberia stand in line to receive food rations of cereals, vegetable oil, pulses and corn soya blend. (WFP/Jean-Martin Bauer)
In Côte d’Ivoire WFP aims to reach 125,000 people and in Liberia another 186,000. The situation may even get worse with the onset of the rainy season in April. Moving food may become much more difficult. But a more immediate problem is lack of funding for both relief missions.
The World Food Programme relies on voluntary donations from the public and governments. To this point funding is dangerously low for the Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia missions. This may become a disturbing trend considering that the recent House budget drastically cut international food aid. If the cuts stand, the number of hungry people will escalate worldwide.
The relief mission in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia is suffering severe neglect right now from the international community. Where this may take its heaviest toll would be on children under five years of age, in an area where malnutrition is already a crisis. WFP says that 16.7 percent of children under five in Côte d’Ivoire are underweight for their age.
For more information please visit the World Food Programme.