Côte d'Ivoire: IDPs rebuilding lives amid a delicate peace
An estimated 150,000 people were internally displaced in western Côte d’Ivoire at the peak of the post-electoral crisis. Duékoué’s Catholic mission (above) hosted as many as 28,000 men, women and children in crowded makeshift shelters. (© E.J. Rushing/IDMC, October 2012)
Download Africa Overview
31 December 2012
By the end of 2012, most of the estimated one million people displaced by the fighting and violence that followed the November 2010 presidential elections had managed to return home. They were able to do so largely as a result of significant security improvements in both Abidjan and western regions of the country, which were the worst affected areas.
Between 40,000 and 80,000 people were estimated still to be living in internal displacement, many of them likely staying with host families, renting or squatting, particularly in Abidjan. The lack of a countrywide mechanism for monitoring IDPs means more accurate estimates are not available. It is also still unclear how many people displaced during the 2002 to 2007 internal armed conflict have been able to achieve durable solutions, be it by return, local integration or settlement elsewhere in the country.
Despite improved security conditions in 2012, incidents of violence continued to take place. At least 24,000 people were internally displaced, some of them for a second time, as a result of cross-border armed attacks and inter-communal clashes in the west of the country. The cross-border attacks were allegedly carried out by Ivorian and Liberian mercenaries who backed the former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, or disgruntled former Ivorian soldiers based across the border in Liberia.
The main displacement incidents took place in April, when an attack on the town of Sakré forced an estimated 6,320 people to flee their homes, and in mid-June, when as many as 13,000 people were displaced as a result of a series of attacks against villages between Taï and Nigré. Most of those affected were able to return home within a few weeks once calm was restored.
In July, a group of armed men attacked and destroyed most of Nahibly, Côte d’Ivoire’s last displacement camp, forcing out the 5,000 people who were still living there. At least eight IDPs were killed in the attack, and the discovery of mass graves near Duékoué in October and November led to fears that further victims would be found. No arrests were made in relation to the assault.
Other violent attacks targeted military and police forces during the second half of the year, particularly near Abidjan. The attacks are not known to have caused any displacements, but they stoked the atmosphere of tension and insecurity which lingered in several parts of the country.
Obstacles to durable solutions were numerous and reflected both the many difficulties IDPs face and the extent of the destruction that took place during the post-electoral crisis of 2010 and 2011. Many homes, schools, health centres and sanitation facilities had yet to be rebuilt or repaired as of the end of 2012. Land disputes remained a major obstacle for returning IDPs trying to rebuild their lives and restore their livelihoods in the west of the country. Many found their land occupied by settlers or illegally leased or sold to other families.
Victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, had access to only limited psychosocial and legal assistance, and impunity for such crimes remained high. Women and girls,
many of whom lost their identity documents during their displacement, were vulnerable to abuse, particularly when travelling and passing checkpoints. In the absence of reliable information on those still living in displacement following the 2002 to 2007 conflict, there were indications that a number of IDPs had opted to integrate locally. No details as to their success or otherwise in achieving a durable solution were available.
National authorities and international organisations focused their assistance efforts largely on returns. In January 2012, the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs and Solidarity signalled the government’s intention to close the remaining displacement camps as soon as possible. By early 2012 most camps had been phased out and those remaining in and around Abidjan closed in March. In the west, Duékoué Catholic mission, where thousands of people had sought refuge during the crisis, closed in July, the same month Nahibly camp was attacked and destroyed.
International humanitarian partners continued their efforts to facilitate IDPs’ voluntary return and the restoration of basic services in return areas. A lack of funding, however, has limited the effectiveness of recovery and rehabilitation programmes, despite outstanding needs. Several clusters, which were set up in 2011, began transferring responsibility for coordinating protection and assistance activities to the Ivorian government in 2012. National authorities, however, have only limited capacity in some areas, and as such the handover from the cluster system will continue throughout 2013.
Côte d’Ivoire: With elections looming, new attacks force 6,000 to flee (4 April 2013)
Over 6,000 people were forced to flee their homes in the last three weeks following attacks by heavily armed men on the villages of Zilébly and Petit-Guiglo in western Côte d’Ivoire. The attacks and subsequent clashes with the army caused multiple casualties, including civilians and Ivorian soldiers.
On 14 March, many people were forced to flee Zilébly, a village located a few kilometres from the Liberian border, amid looting and destruction. While some people who took refuge in nearby Bloléquin, Toulépleu, or in the bush returned the next day, they feared further attacks. An attack on Petit-Guiglo a week later caused the displacement of at least 5,000 people, according to local authorities. Most people fled to the bush or to neighbouring towns such as Tinhou and Bloléquin. Local authorities asked for humanitarian assistance due to the destruction of homes and food stocks.
Ivorian sources claim the attackers came from neighbouring Liberia, including government accusations that the individuals responsible are loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo. Supporters of the former president denied any involvement. Other sources indicate that the attacks were carried out by local people, in an effort to evict non-Ivorians from the region.
A fragile stability has existed in Côte d'Ivoire since the post-election violence in 2011, punctured last year by attacks in the west of the country as well as in and around Abidjan. With regional and local elections due to take place on 21 April, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) announced it would neither participate nor recognise the results.
Côte d’Ivoire: One year since election violence, special rapporteur describes IDP situation as “dire” (8 August 2012)
At the end of a recent nine-day visit to Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Chaloka Beyani, confirmed that “while IDPs are no longer visible in camps, their needs as well as those of their host communities continue to be dire.” He reported that some IDPs have resorted to living in precarious slums in Abidjan, where they are at risk of eviction while others in the country’s volatile west tend to hide in the forest at night due to fears of attacks.
The Special Rapporteur’s visit to the west took place just days after an armed attack on the Nahibly IDP camp, near Duékoué, where 5,000 people who had already been displaced from their homes were forced to flee once more.
Acknowledging efforts made in ensuring that IDPs could return home voluntarily, the Special Rapporteur nonetheless urged the government to adopt a “principled, transparent and action-oriented approach” to protecting IDPs. As well as rebuilding livelihoods and land reform processes, this would include measures which “explicitly take into account the situation of IDPs, promote local ownership of solutions and involve civil society”. He also noted security and legal justice as “critical” issues that needed addressing. The country’s truth and reconciliation commission, which was set up nearly a year ago in an effort to forge national unity, is reportedly struggling to function due to lack of funding.
Côte d’Ivoire witnessed the world’s largest new internal displacement event of 2011 after contested presidential election results in 2010 sparked a violent conflict for political control. Serious rights abuses by supporters of both sides and armed clashes between them resulted in the internal displacement of up to a million people. Two years later, most of these internally displaced people (IDPs) have returned home to rebuild their lives. However, tens of thousands have still not found durable solutions to their displacement.
With no comprehensive monitoring process in place, it is not possible to determine how many of those displaced by the post-electoral violence, nor those displaced by earlier conflict, have achieved durable solutions. Insecurity and humanitarian needs are particularly pronounced in western and southwestern regions. Access to land remains a major impediment for returning IDPs there, and recurrent land disputes perpetuate displacement and fuel ethnic tensions. Other key challenges for IDPs seeking to rebuild their normal lives include food insecurity, limited access to shelter, education, and health services and sexualand gender-based violence. (...)
Download Full Overview
28 November 2012
||IDPs rebuilding lives amid a delicate peace (28 November 2012) HTML | PDF
||Les personnes déplacées à l’intérieur de leur propre pays tentent de refaire leur vie sur fond de paix fragile (28 November 2012) HTML | PDF
Internal Displacement Profile
"Résumé du Profil en Français","Résumé du Profil en Français"
"Causes and Background","Background","Peace efforts","Main causes of displacement"
"Population Figures and Profile","Global figures","Geographical distribution","Disaggregated data"
"Patterns of Displacement","General"
"Physical Security & Freedom of Movement","Physical security","Freedom of movement"
"Subsistence Needs","General","Health","Food","Shelter","Water and Sanitation"
"Access to Education","General"
"Issues of Self-Reliance and Public Participation","Self-reliance","Public participation"
"Documentation Needs and Citizenship","General"
"Patterns of Return and Resettlement","General"
"National and International Responses","National response","International response","References to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement"
Previous Profile updates
- Key Documents
- Besoins humanitaires en phase de transition, UN OCHA, 11 March 2013
- Rapport de l’Expert indépendant sur la situation des droits de l’Homme en Côte d’Ivoire, UN HRC, 7 January 2013
- Revue à mi-parcours Appel global Côte d'Ivoire 2012, UN OCHA, 17 July 2012
- Appel global pour la Côte d'Ivoire 2012, UN OCHA, 15 December 2011
- Identification de la population - Le mode opératoire, Government of Côte d'Ivoire, 31 May 2008
- Accord Politique de Ouagadougou, Government of Côte d'Ivoire, 4 March 2007
- Whose land is this? Land disputes and forced displacement in the western forest area of Côte d’Ivoire, October 2009 (En | Fr )
- Tufts-IDMC study on Abidjan,2008 (En | Fr )