Cote d’Ivoire: Refugee Mother Fears For Husband And Home

Published on 09 February 2011

Nadine and her daughter receive a ration of Corn Soya Blend at a food distribution site in Nimba County, Liberia. Copyright: WFP/Alexandre Brecher

When fighting broke out in Cote d’Ivoire after contested presidential elections, Nadine, a pregnant mother of three, fled to Liberia. But her husband stayed behind to protect their home. She hasn’t heard from him since. As she waits for news and a signal they can return home, Nadine and her kids are getting by on food aid.

by Alexandre Brecher

“We were so afraid it would turn into another civil war,” said Nadine who is pregnant with her fourth child. “There was so much violence against women in the last war that we had to leave. We couldn’t risk it.”

But Nadine’s husband stayed behind, determined that his family would have a home to come back to after things calmed down. That was two months ago and Nadine hasn’t heard from him since.

Helping those in need

  • Recent fighting in Cote d'Ivoire has resulted in over 32,000 refugees fleeing into Liberia.
  • Local rice prices in Liberia have increased by 25-50 per cent since the crisis began.
  • WFP has launched an emergency operation to more than 40,000 families affected by the conflict on both sides of the border.

Not alone

“I’m not alone. A lot of women are in my same situation,” said Nadine, who is one of over 32,000 Ivorian refugees who have come to Liberia in search of safe haven. Most of them are women and children who crossed the border after a dangerous and exhausting trek.

Like Nadine, many of them arrived in Liberia’s Nimba county, a prosperous farming community which is more than able to feed itself. But families there are unable to bear the burden of such a large influx of refugees.

Nadine and her children were among those fortunate enough to find shelter with a host family, but they are still dependent on assistance agencies like WFP to meet their material needs.

Malnutrition rates are generally higher in Cote d’Ivoire than they are in Liberia. According to aid workers, many of the refugees were undernourished to begin with and arrived across the border without having eaten for days.

Nutritional support

To help them, WFP is providing refugees with specialised rations like High Energy Biscuits (HEBs), which require no preparation and require all of the vitamins and nutrients that a person needs to be healthy.

In addition, WFP-supported clinics are providing Nadine and her children with the nutritional support they need to be healthy.

“Since we arrived, we’ve never been without the basics we need to survive,” says Nadine. “We’re grateful for that, but what we really want is to be able to go home.”