UNHCR halts I.Coast camp building plan over security fears

4th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN refugees agency has been forced to halt plans to build a camp for the displaced in west Ivory Coast due to security fears, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for UNHCR, said around 70,000 people have been displaced in the western part of the country and that the agency was planning to build a camp for them.

"But we had to cease all of that construction," she said.

"And we're not operating there anymore unfortunately due to the fighting and the insecurity," she told journalists, noting that heavy clashes have taken place around the west's Duekoue and Blolequin.

Another UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, told AFP that the agency is still operating in Guiglo, also in the west of the country, although it is finding it harder to provide aid.

"They are doing what they can to monitor the situation on the ground. In terms of providing aid, that is significantly reduced," said Edwards.

Beyond the west, access of aid agencies to the needy was also being choked off in Abidjan, where the number of displaced people has now reached 200,000, the agency said.

"We do still have our staff in Abidjan, but we see roadblocks outside our office. It is now very difficult for us to move around and reach the people in need, we're having to rely more and more on local NGOs," said Fleming.

The UN Security Council warned Thursday that the Ivory Coast conflict was spiralling towards civil war.

The country has been in conflict since a presidential election last November as strongman Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the polls, have been unable to find a settlement to end the crisis.

© 2011 AFP

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