U.N. says $300 million needed for Ivory Coast humanitarian aid

UNITED NATIONS Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:16pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - About $300 million is urgently needed to meet humanitarian needs in Ivory Coast, which is in the throes of a crisis after months of civil war, the U.N. humanitarian chief said on Wednesday.

Valerie Amos, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council the situation in Ivory Coast remains troubling despite the arrest on Monday of former president Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to admit defeat to his rival Alassane Ouattara in a November 28 election.

"The crisis that followed elections last November and the escalation we have seen in the last few weeks has had far-reaching humanitarian consequences for ordinary people throughout Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), and its neighboring countries," she said.

"These effects will not subside without a significant and sustained effort from the humanitarian community, and the combined efforts of the broader U.N. system in Cote d'Ivoire contributing to stabilization and reconciliation," she said.

Amos estimated that around $300 million is needed to cover "priority humanitarian needs."

"As of today, $57 million -- only 15 percent of what is needed -- has been committed," she said. "We need to act now to deliver more food, provide shelter and offer better medical treatment to those who are sick. We must not let the people of Cote d'Ivoire and the region down."

She said that many of the people in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan, which has some 4 million inhabitants, continue to face sporadic violence.

"Many families in the city are without food and are trapped in their homes, too afraid of the militias and the fighting to leave," Amos said. "Some have been forced by the violence to flee."

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR has registered more than 130,000 displaced people in Abidjan alone, she said. Outside Abidjan, the UNHCR estimates that some 800,000 are internally displaced, while more than 140,000 people have fled to neighboring countries like Liberia, Guinea and Ghana.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Will Dunham)

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