From June 1st, two Centers of BICE re-opened their doors after the post-election crisis in Ivory Coast.
Désiré Koukoui, Director of actions and projects of the BICE in the field, refers us the current situation in the country.
1. How is the country getting back on its feet after months of uncertainty and insecurity?
The Ivory Coast almost hit rock bottom with the post-election crisis. We suffered losses in human lives and destructions of property. What a waste! Thank God, wisdom eventually visited the protagonists of the crisis and the situation gradually normalizes, faster than we think. The few militiamen and irreducible mercenaries who are entrenched in the commune of Yopougon and who sowed desolation have been arrested. Some have unraveled in nature and still constitute a threat to the security but the new authorities are being watchful. I think that the crisis is now behind us. The Constitutional Council recognized the victory of the new President, which allowed the return to normality. We still have to heal the wounds of social cohesion which has been sorely tested and meet the challenges of the country’s reconstruction.
2. What are the consequences caused by the electoral crisis in regard to BICE Centers?
The BICE Center in Abidjan, hosting our “Home and family reintegration of children in the streets of Abidjan” project.
BICE was severely affected by this crisis. Some centers had to close down, depriving the children of our actions of social protection, some infrastructures for the protection of children in the brigade of protection of minors and the houses of judgment and Correction were destroyed, especially at the MACA, neighborhood antennas shut down as well etc… The displacement of populations caused the dislocation of local committees for the protection of children (CLPE) depriving BICE of a valuable community tool for the protection of children. We will have to rebuild all this in a context where resources are becoming scarce. But hope is allowed, given the availability of the new authorities which took firm commitments on human rights.
The Rescue Centre of Plateau remained open during the entire period of the crisis to provide assistance for children without parental relationships, victims of violence and exploitation. Around 40 children, girls and boys, benefitted from the assistance of the center even at the height of the crisis. With the gradual normalization of the situation, we will re-open other centers as early as June 1st.
3. Can it be said that the time of emergency is passed?
We are still in a period of emergency because many families already in precarious situation have lost everything and had to take refuge in displaced locations or in their villages. The closure of the banks for four months has disrupted the financial and commercial system and the looting of businesses has destabilized the life in Abidjan. Children are the major victims. Some schools have also been looted, not counting the number of bereaved families (over 3,000 killed or missing persons registered to date). We need to continue to provide support to child victims, and at the same time work on reconciliation by bringing ICBF assistance to child victims to overcome the horrors of the bombings in Abidjan. There were also some teenagers associated with fighting forces we need to take care of. All this has to go along with advocacy, to accompany the new authorities of the country to preserve the achievements in the protection of children.
4. What are the challenges for BICE in this post crisis period?
The first challenge is reconciliation and disarmament in all hearts. Hatred was sown in the hearts in recent years between the Ivorian to each other. Children couldn’t hide from this phenomenon. Therefore, a lot of work on has to be done on social cohesion by investing in children. The second challenge is to support Community initiatives strengthening civil society for better protection of children. The third is to walk along the new authorities for a protective environment for children. Not to mention the strengthening of all contributors’ capacities.
BICE needs the strengthening of the support of donors to continue its activities of protection and assistance to the most vulnerable children. We need to rehabilitate the infrastructures of protection of children to help the State which will be occupied by other emergencies. To do this, we must rebuild our teams and form them to meet the new challenges of a country out of a long political and military crisis.