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Going the extra mile: UNICEF supplies for the displaced reach western Côte d’Ivoire

© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire/2011/Slavin
UNICEF staff member Konate Yaya completed an arduous three-day journey to deliver emergency supplies to western Côte d’Ivoire.

MAN, Côte d’Ivoire, 24 January 2011 – Late last week, after an exhausting three-day drive across the country – a trip that was rerouted for security concerns – a UNICEF cargo truck safely offloaded emergency supplies for nearly 20,000 displaced people in western Côte d’Ivoire.

The shipment from the UNICEF warehouse in Abidjan included school supplies for pre-school teachers and 4,000 students, as well as recreation equipment for 2,500 children. The supplies were stored temporarily in a secure UNICEF warehouse prior to being distributed in displacement camps located in three nearby towns.

Reaching the most vulnerable
“Normally the drive from Abidjan to Man takes 12 hours, but parts of the most direct route are now zone rouge, which UN security officials have classified as off limits,” said UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire Officer-in-Charge Sylvie Dossou.

“Our truck driver, staff member Konate Yaya, commenced a three-day trip, including crossing a dirt track where it was really slow going – seven hours to drive 136 kilometres! I am very proud of Konate and grateful that UNICEF emergency supplies will now reach the most vulnerable,” she added.

Among the other materials that reached the UNICEF field office here were 1,500 posters for the promotion of handwashing with soap and drinking potable water, which will be posted in tents and used by community health workers. A shipment of 1,500 HIV-prevention guides were also transported for distribution to non-governmental organization partners and camp volunteers. 

© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire/2011/Slavin
UNICEF cargo truck reaches the agency's field office in Man, Côte d’Ivoire.

"Every child’s right to play"
The pre-school supplies include puppets, construction blocks, modelling clay, crayons and paper, and board puzzles. The recreation kits contain footballs, Frisbees, skipping rope, volleyballs and volleyball nets.

“Every child’s right to play must be respected,” said Dr. Eli Ramamonjisoa, team leader of the UNICEF field office in Man, which is overseeing relief efforts for some 15,000 displaced people in the town of Duékoué. Violent clashes erupted in the town earlier this month, part of a national crisis that has gripped Côte d’Ivoire since elections were held in late November. 

The UN Security Council has approved a troop increase of 2,000 soldiers and 60 police personnel to address threats posed by unarmed crowds amidst the continuing crisis. To date, the African Union’s mediation efforts among the country’s political factions have not resulted in any major breakthroughs. There is also concern that food insecurity is likely to increase in the coming months.

By Patrick Slavin



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