Internally Displaced Persons: Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA)

OUAGADOUGOU POLITICAL AGREEMENT 

6.5. Programme of assistance for the return of persons displaced by the war

With a view to promoting national reconciliation and political and institutional normalization, the Parties to the direct dialogue agree to establish as early as possible a programme to provide assistance for the return of persons displaced by the war. This programme is intended to facilitate the social reintegration of individuals and families who abandoned their homes or their property on account of the war. The two Parties undertake to provide the relevant technical ministry with the resources necessary for the implementation of this programme.

Implementation History

2007

Minimum Implementation

The Ouagadougou Political Agreement called for assistance to be provided for the return of displaced persons. The accord was not clear whether this included internally displaced persons (IDPs) or refugees. Given that the major cause of the conflict was the influx of migrant workers and their resettlement in Ivory Coast, this provision mostly referred to IDPs.

In terms of implementing this particular provision of the accord, the Ministry of Solidarity and Victims of War was said to have developed an assistance program and visited the areas that the displaced would return to. Nevertheless, it was reported that the legal framework to claim that displaced persons had abandoned their homes and properties did not exist as of September.1 Between 27 and 29 November, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the humanitarian mission led a delegation comprised of the UN country team, non-governmental organizations, and the donor communities to the western part of the country to evaluate the program and the needs of returnees.2 It was reported that approximately 50,000 displaced persons had returned.3

  • 1. “Fourteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2007/ 593), October 1, 2007.
  • 2. "Fifteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2008/1), January 2, 2008.
  • 3. "Fifteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2008/1), January 2, 2008.
2008

Intermediate Implementation

In 2008, the UN Secretary General’s report suggested that the majority of an estimated 700,000 IDPs were not expected to seek resettlement assistance. The humanitarian community focused on providing assistance only to an estimated 111,000 IDPs.4 But the return of IDPs was attributed to coordination between governmental authorities and humanitarian actors in the western part of the country. As a result, as of early July, an estimated 61,432 IDPs had returned home since the signing of the accord.5 By the end of December, an estimated 76,000 had spontaneously returned to their villages.6

  • 4. “Sixteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2008/250), April 15, 2008.
  • 5. “Seventeenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2008/451), July 10, 2008.
  • 6. “Nineteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2009/21), January 8, 2009.
2009

Minimum Implementation

By December 2009, approximately 88,790 IDPs had returned home.7 However, it was reported that in some areas land disputes affected the return of IDPs.8

  • 7. “Twenty-third progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2010/15), January 7, 2010.
  • 8.  “Twenty-third progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2010/15), January 7, 2010; “Twentieth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2009/196), April 13, 2009.
2010

Intermediate Implementation

By the end of October, a total of 90,000 IDPs had returned to their villages.9 Land and property issues remained a factor that affected sustainable socio-economic reintegration.10 Nevertheless, the government shifted its focus from humanitarian to development issues.

  • 9. “Twenty-sixth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2010/600), November 23, 2010.
  • 10. “Twenty-fourth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2010/245), May 20, 2010.
2011

Minimum Implementation

While substantial progress was made in terms of helping displaced persons get resettled in their communities, the recurrence of civil war after presidential elections in Ivory Coast engendered another wave of internal displacement. By the end of March, an estimated 300,000 to 700,000 people had been displaced from the Abobo region along with an additional 45,000 in the west.11 Moreover, approximately 186,000 went to Liberia as refugees.12 International organizations provided humanitarian support to IDPs and food assistance to refugees. By mid-June, an estimated 300,000 remained displaced within the country and over 200,000 persons were in neighboring countries.13 An estimated 500,000 IDPs and over 130,000 refugees returned to their villages by the end of the year.14

  • 11. “Twenty-seventh progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2011/211), March 30, 2011.
  • 12. “Twenty-seventh progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2011/211), March 30, 2011.
  • 13. “Twenty-eighth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2011/387), June 24, 2011.
  • 14. “Twenty-ninth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2011/807), December 30, 2011.
2012

Minimum Implementation

The majority of people displaced during the post-election conflict returned to their villages. However, as of June, an estimated 86,000 were still displaced internally, an estimated 58,200 refugees were in Liberia, and another 24,140 refugees were in other countries.15 It was reported that the repatriation of displaced persons and refugees experienced funding constraints resulting in the insufficient availability of livelihood assistance programs to support their return.16

The UN reported that by December a majority of persons displaced because of the post-election crisis had returned home, but up to 80,000 remained displaced.  “The continued perception of insecurity and ineffective restoration of State authority, including limited access to basic social services, hampered the sustainable return of internally displaced persons and refugees.” About 9,300 Ivorian refugees remained in Ghana as of December.  Attacks from Ghana, as well as Liberia, into the Ivory Coast, one of which targeted an IDP camp in West Ivory Coast, prompted the UN to facilitate high level government contacts while encouraging refugees to return.17

  • 15. “Thirtieth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2012/506), June 29, 2012.
  • 16. “Special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2012/186), March 29, 2012.
  • 17. “Thirty-first progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2012/964), December 31, 2012, paragraphs 47, 28, 67, 71.
2013

Intermediate Implementation

With UN support, approximately 8,200 Ivorian refugees voluntarily returned to Côte d’Ivoire from Liberia by June. Some 83,500 Ivorians remain refugees in the subregion, including some 66,400 in Liberia and 8,500 in Ghana. “Cross-border attacks in March resulted in the temporary displacement of up to 8,000 persons, with 500 going to Liberia.” The UN focused its humanitarian response on “assisting returning refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as host families and communities, by providing short-term relief packages and through activities that support rebuilding of livelihoods and strengthening of resilience.” The UN was also providing support to the Government to help provide durable solutions for IDPs, moving from relief to development, while working to build state capacity and coordination with development actors.18

However, persisting conflicts “over land, lack of employment opportunities and lack of access to basic social services and protection often hampered their sustainable reintegration in areas of return, especially in the west of the country.”19 The UN also noted the more general problem of statelessness in West Africa and it saw an “opportunity for hundreds of thousands of persons at risk of statelessness to acquire Ivorian nationality.  UNICEF estimates that 2.8 million children remain unregistered and lack the birth certificates they need to have their rights respected.” Meanwhile, instability along the border with Liberia continued to hamper resettlement efforts.20

By December, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration had assisted the voluntary repatriation of more than 16,000 refugees from neighboring countries.21

  • 18. “Thirty-second progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2013/377), June 26, 2013, paragraphs 57-59; “Thirty-third progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2013/761), December 24, 2013, paragraph 54.
  • 19. “Thirty-second progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2013/377), June 26, 2013, paragraph 58.
  • 20. “Thirty-third progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2013/761), December 24, 2013, paragraphs 55, 77.
  • 21. Ibid., paragraph 52.
2014

Intermediate Implementation

The outbreak of Ebola in Guinea and Liberia affected voluntary returns facilitated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which had been suspended since March, affecting 42,000 refugees in Liberia and 6,500 refugees in Guinea. The resilience of communities in the border area was affected by the epidemic, owing to the restricted mobility of people and goods, the closure of markets and a ban on bush meat.22 “Although Côte d’Ivoire has not recorded any case of Ebola, as a neighbor of three affected countries, Côte d’Ivoire has put in place stringent measures to stop its spread. Ivorian refugees from affected countries are not able to return, and the livelihoods of border communities are increasingly at risk.”23

On 15 May, the western border town of Fété was attacked by a group of unidentified armed individuals, which resulted in the displacement of 3,500 community members.  The Government and the UN responded by approving measures aimed at enhancing security in the western areas of the country, including increasing the presence of FRCI, launching programs to promote peace, social cohesion and security, and rehabilitating bridges.  The population of the town, however, had not returned by December.24

Moreover, there remained “a serious lack of livelihood opportunities, housing and land for the displaced, who also faced considerable social marginalization.”25

  • 22. “Thirty-fifth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2014/892), December 12, 2014, paragraph 50.
  • 23. Ibid., paragraph 80.
  • 24. Ibid., paragraph 19.
  • 25. Ibid., paragraph 38.
2015

Intermediate Implementation

In 2015, the voluntary repatriation of refugees in neighboring countries remained a top priority for the UNHCR, although efforts continued to be hampered by the ebola outbreak in West Africa.26