UNICEF is concerned about the situation of children and women in the southwestern province of Bas-Sassandra in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).  

Thousands of women and children are living in makeshift shelters following weeks of violent clashes in Bas-Sassandra. As many as 6,000 people, most of them women and children, have been forced to leave their homes.

With poor hygiene conditions and the rainy season approaching, the risk of disease is growing. Yet the security situation prevents UN agencies from getting to those in most need to provide vital healthcare. Three cases of polio have already been reported – the first since 2000.

"This recent outbreak of insecurity is putting on hold key child survival activities such as vaccinating against polio, which would prevent children from being exposed to a virus that could leave them paralysed for life," said Hervé Ludovic de Lys, a UNICEF representative in Côte d'Ivoire.

Many schools have remained closed in the Sassandra and Gabiadji areas due to violence and looting. Lack of safe access means aid agencies know little of the situation on the ground.

Ludovic de Lys added: "As the country is getting on the path to stability and recovery, we should not overlook pressing humanitarian needs in localised areas of the country where swift humanitarian response is still required to save the lives of women and children."

Vincent, 8, an Ivorian refugee © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0161/Adolphus Scott
Vincent, 8, an Ivorian refugee, waits to be registered in the town of Loguatuo, near the border with Côte d'Ivoire. He and his mother walked all morning to reach the registration site – they had been living for two weeks in a remote village, without food or safe water.© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0161/Adolphus Scott