ECOWAS gives over US$1m relief food to Ivorian IDPs
The sub-regional bloc, ECOWAS has stepped in a relatively big way to help ease the hardships faced by tens of thousands of Ivorians made Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the aftermath of the bloody post elections violence.
The ECOWAS Commission has presented 1,320 tons of grains valued at more than one million US dollars to the Ivory Coast government to alleviate the sufferings of some one million people displaced during the country's post-electoral crisis of 2010, a press release from the sub-regional bloc said on Wednesday.
The 885 tons of rice and 435 tons of maize were presented by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadré Désire Ouédraogo, to Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of State for Employment, Social Affairs and Solidarity, Mr. Kafana Kone, during a ceremony in Abidjan last weekend.
At the ceremony, attended by representatives of the office of the Prime Minister, Ministries for Ex-combatants and Regional Integration, President Ouédraogo said the gesture was the region's contribution to assist internally displaced persons return quickly to normal life in the spirit of regional solidarity.
He affirmed that ECOWAS placed a high premium on the management of conflicts and assisting Member States to address accompanying challenges, adding that the contribution would also contribute to poverty alleviation among the displaced population and refugees affected by the crisis.
In spite of its lean resources, he said the Community has intervened variously to provide succour to victims of natural disasters and related crisis in the region, including assistance to victims of the 2009 flood in the country.
In January 2010, the Commission released 500,000 dollars to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to assist some 150,000 Ivorian refugees from the crisis in Liberia.
In his response, Minister Kone commended ECOWAS for the donation, describing it as further expression of the attachment of Member States to the principles of solidarity enshrined in the instruments of the organization. He said the crisis had accentuated social vulnerability and paid tribute to Member States, not only for the gesture but also for their contributions to the restoration of stability in the country.
Earlier, Mr. Gialuca Terrera, an official of the World Food Programme (WFP), which helped to procure the food items, said the involvement of the Programme’s regional office was within the context of the Memorandum of Understanding with ECOWAS, which stipulates that the two organizations complement each other in addressing humanitarian needs in Member States. He said the WFP was also involved bilaterally with the Government of Cote d'Ivoire to provide for the vulnerable victims of the crisis.
Funding for the donated food came from the 2.4 million dollars approved by ECOWAS leaders to support internally displaced populations and refugees.
The ECOWAS Commission requested the WFP to help procure the food items while the UNHCR was requested to assist with non-food items such as emergency shelters, water, sanitation facilities, and access roads, among others, to the tune of 1.3 million dollars, the ECOWAS press release added.