Bodies litter the streets in parts of Ivory Coast’s main city Abidjan and mass arrests have followed the end of months of fighting in the West African country, the Red Cross said yesterday.
A day after President Alassane Ouattara promised to restore security and prosperity to a nation broken by civil war, the International Committee for the Red Cross said there was evidence of widespread looting in the west of the country and “a massive inflow” of aid is needed.
Ouattara’s rival Laurent Gbagbo was captured in Abidjan by forces loyal to Ouattara earlier this week, ending a power struggle that followed Gbagbo’s refusal to accept that he lost last November’s presidential election.
The fighting that followed cost thousands of lives, uprooted more than a million, and wrecked the economy of the world’s number one cocoa exporter.
“People are starting to obtain supplies, but not in every part of the city (Abidjan),” said Dominique Liengme, the head of the ICRC delegation in Abidjan.
“Many who are injured or ill still cannot go to hospital because of the security situation, or because they lack transportation. Medical facilities that are still functioning are overwhelmed, and they lack supplies and personnel. In several parts of the city, bodies still litter the streets.”
Large numbers of people have been arrested in connection with the armed conflict over the past few days, the ICRC said. An official in Geneva was unable to be more precise on the numbers and added that some of those arrested had since been released.
The ICRC said its officials had begun visiting detainees in Bouake in the north of the country in order to assess the treatment they receive and conditions of detention.
It has also asked to be able to visit Gbagbo and his close relations, who were arrested on April 11.
The independent humanitarian agency reports its confidential findings on prisoners and their treatment only to detaining authorities.
The ICRC said it had been able to improve water provision, sanitation and medical supply to Duekoue and Guiglo in western Ivory Coast where tens of thousands of displaced people are gathered. It has also helped some of the estimated 130,000 Ivorian refugees who have fled to neighbouring Liberia since December get back in contact with their families.