The humanitarian situation in Ivory Coast, where dictator Laurent Gbagbo was captured on 11 April 2011 by French forces and opposition troops, has been worsening, say church leaders - writes Fredrick Nzwili.
"The situation is very difficult. Most people cannot access basic services. They cannot move out. They are trapped inside their houses," Monisgnor Laurent Mandjo, the President of the Conference Episcopale Nationale de la Cote d'Ivoire (Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast) told ENInews on 11 April in a telephone interview from the capital, Abidjan.
Mandjo said supply lines had been cut off with most shops being closed during the fighting between Gbagbo forces and those of Alassane Ouattara, recognised internationally as having won the presidential election last November. Gbagbo, a Catholic from the central-west region had refused to cede power to Ouattara, a northern Muslim.
"It has been very difficult to reach or meet any of the leaders to talk peace," said Mandjo.
Gbagbo's capture is expected to change the situation, especially in Abidjan where residents are reportedly running out of food and clean water. Many people had sought refuge in the churches to escape the bombardment.
"In every parish in the city there are large numbers of displaced people forced to flee their homes," Archbishop Ambrose Madtha, the Roman Catholic Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) in Abidjan said, according to media reports.
Sumoward Harris, Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia told ENInews that nearly 100,000 refugees had crossed into his country. "They are settling in an area where there are no basic services and soon we shall have a humanitarian crisis if the war does not stop," he said.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]