Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

A senior United Nations relief official stressed today that assisting the people of C?te d?Ivoire in overcoming their current humanitarian difficulties will lay the foundation for the country?s transition to reconstruction and development after last year?s bloody post-election violence.

?This is a historic opportunity for C?te d?Ivoire, and it is one that we cannot afford to miss,? said Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affair, speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters following her three-day visit to the country last week.

UN agencies and their humanitarian partners are seeking $173 million this year to fund the country?s relief priorities.

Requirements include enabling voluntary and durable return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to their villages; protecting civilians; rebuilding 17,000 homes and rehabilitating more than 170 schools, as well as more than 100 health centres; providing basic services to vulnerable populations; and restoring sources of livelihood.

?The progress that has been made in terms of returns of close to a half million IDPs and refugees, while laudable, is not enough,? said Ms. Bragg, who is also the UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.

?Now is not the time for the international community or the Government to turn their attention away from the needs of a still sizeable population, who individually ? each one of them ? has endured hardship and insecurity for too long,? she said.

?As a humanitarian community, if we continue to focus our efforts, work together more effectively, commit to more strategic priorities and receive the financial support we urgently need, we can address these challenges.

?We can support the most vulnerable across the country, including in Abidjan, and help them to reintegrate. We can help create the conditions for the 186,000 IDPs in C?te d?Ivoire, as well as the 161,000 Ivorian refugees in neighbouring countries, to return voluntarily and durably,? said Ms. Bragg. Cote

By: UN

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