Operation: Côte d'Ivoire
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|2020 year-end results|
|2,000||people of concern received legal assistance|
|1,858||refugees received cash assistance to mitigate the impact of COVID-19|
|1300||birth registers and 432 birth certificates were produced and distributed to the National Office of Civil Status and Identification and the Ministry of Justice|
|631||legal documents including, asylum-seeker certificates, refugee certificates and declaratory judgments were delivered to refugees|
|452||refugee students in primary and secondary school received assistance|
|220||refugee households benefited from capacity building and financing to support their small businesses|
|182||refugees received $600 each for income-generating activities|
|36||anti-statelessness committees were established|
|2021 planning figures|
|18,000||Ivorian asylum-seekers in Ghana and Liberia (hosted since 2020) will be supported with unconditional cash assistance upon return to Côte d’Ivoire|
|6,000||persons at risk of statelessness will receive individual assistance and protection services|
|5,530||IDPs will be provided with protection, shelter and core relief items assistance|
|3,000||Ivorian refugees (hosted in neighbouring countries since 2011) will be assisted to return in safety and dignity|
|970||Liberian refugees will receive livelihood and cash assistance to foster socioeconomic inclusion|
People of Concern
Operational contextThe presidential election period was marked by intercommunal clashes that left 85 dead, 484 injured, and displaced 5,394 IDPs and over 12,000 Ivorians seeking refuge in neighboring countries. UNHCR was an integral part of the inter-agency response, leading the protection and shelter sectors and co-leading information management coordination. A Level 1 emergency was declared in October 2020, with emergency teams deployed to provide support. The crisis stabilized after President Ouattara was sworn in on 14 December.
COVID-19 saw the country under lockdown with land borders closed until the end of the year. This affected the voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees, with activities re-oriented towards the protection of people of concern against COVID-19 and its consequences. Other activities, such as those that depended on in-person services were put on hold or adapted.
The Government continued to demonstrate a strong commitment to its engagement in the fight against statelessness and signed two inter-ministerial orders for the establishment of commissions to determine the status of stateless persons. Côte d’Ivoire became the first country in Africa to adopt stateless determination procedures.
Despite the difficult political and socioeconomic context, the UN system made progress regarding the establishment of the 2021-2025 sustainable development cooperation framework with the Government, drawn from the National Development Plan, and with UNHCR formally including refugees, IDPs, returnees and stateless persons in the areas of access to education, gender discrimination and inclusive governance.
Population trendsAs of 31 December 2020, Côte d’Ivoire counted 2,111 refugees and 224 asylum-seekers in urban settings.
In 2020, 331 Ivorian refugees were repatriated in safety and dignity to Côte d’Ivoire with the support of UNHCR and its partners.
5,394 IDPs were displaced by year end according to local authorities and 954,531 were estimated to be stateless.
Key achievementsDespite the operational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR managed to pursue its key protection activities, in particular regarding legal documentation with the issuance of over 1,700 birth registers and certificates and over 630 asylum and refugee certificates.
In the fight against COVID-19, UNHCR provided hand washing kits to 15 schools, five orphanages, 16 social centres, which enrolled refugee students, and refugees in need of psychosocial care.
182 refugees received $600 each for the implementation of income-generating activities.
464 refugee children and 52 host community children were assisted with home-based classes during lock down.
As of part UNHCR’s COVID-19 response, 40 refugee households benefited from capacity building in the creation of small businesses, entrepreneurship and accounting management and received a grant to establish income-generating activities.
60 Ivorian refugees from Guinee were repatriated in dignity thanks to the humanitarian corridor in a context where land borders remained closed until the end of the year.
During the electoral crisis, UNHCR provided core relief item support to 1,706 IDPs housed in social centres, schools and churches.
Two decrees establishing procedures for determining the status of stateless persons were signed by both the Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs.
Unmet needsWith UNHCR’s statelessness budget reduced by a quarter during 2020 due to underfunding, the implementation of the statelessness strategy was impacted, particularly with a reduction of the activities aimed at identifying persons at risk of statelessness, including field mission, the establishment and training of commissions of eligibility and related public information campaigns.
Due to closed borders during COVID-19, only four repatriation convoys for some 330 refugees out of an initial target of 3,000 people were organized, despite the wishes of refugees to voluntarily repatriate.
Out of 31 pre-selected projects for income-generating activities, only 12 were funded. 135 persons at heightened risk out of the 155 identified were provided with permanent shelter.
Out of the 167 persons at heightened risk identified at the beginning of the year, only 52 were assisted on a regular basis.
Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)Flexible funding enabled UNHCR to respond to the needs of populations displaced within Côte d’Ivoire amid the electoral tensions of November 2020, particularly shelter interventions, core relief item distribution and protection monitoring, in line with UNHCR’s leadership role in these sectors.
Working environmentCôte d’Ivoire is host to some 700,000 persons at risk of statelessness; 270,650 returnees, of whom 198,610 returned spontaneously and 72,040 were assisted by UNHCR; and 1,810 refugees in a protracted situation. Party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, Côte d’Ivoire’s constitution underscores the granting of asylum in accordance with international standards. While the draft national asylum law is yet to be validated, the refugee determination process, embedded in the organization and the responsibilities of the Directorate for Aid and Assistance to Refugees and Stateless people, is carried out by a National Eligibility Commission and an Appeal Board. After a tripartite agreement was signed between the Ivorian Government and the main host countries, a regional conference on voluntary repatriation and reintegration being hosted in Abidjan in November 2018 to discuss the facilitation of a safe and dignified return for Ivorian refugees. This was followed by a shift from facilitated to promoted repatriation and the adoption of a roadmap for the return and reintegration of the residual Ivorian caseload. Finally, about statelessness, Côte d’Ivoire has acceded to the two international conventions on statelessness and adopted the Abidjan Declaration and the Banjul Regional Action Plan to eradicate statelessness. The current Government has demonstrated its commitment to fight against statelessness, but it is yet to adopt the national action plan to eradicate statelessness and domesticate the conventions to render them operable and enforceable. A presidential election is scheduled to take place in 2020.
Key prioritiesPrevention and reduction of statelessness remains a strategic priority for UNHCR in 2020. The search for durable solutions for refugees and returnees will remain a primary concern in 2020 and beyond. To this end, UNHCR, based on its multi-year strategy to eradicate statelessness in Côte d’Ivoire, will continue underscoring the legal and administrative causes of statelessness and initiate concrete actions to address them. The durable reintegration of returnees and the local integration of protracted refugees will be supported by a multi-faceted approach combining community-based participation and increasing involvement of government and development actors, including financial and technical partners such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
In 2020, UNHCR will:
- coordinate and support activities that reduce and prevent statelessness, and protect and identify stateless persons;
- advocate the adoption of a national action plan to eradicate statelessness and the creation of a statelessness determination procedure;
- support the repatriation of Ivorian refugees hosted in neighbouring countries, in accordance with the Ivory Coast’s roadmap for return and reintegration;
- continue implementing an incremental exit and complete handover of the refugee and returnee assistance programme to Ivorian authorities.