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Water cut off in Abidjan's 'human tragedy': UN

by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) April 8, 2011
Water supplies have been entirely cut off in Abidjan for four days with Ivory Coast's main city locked in a human tragedy, a UN aid official there told AFP on Friday.

Nonetheless, Carlos Geha, the representative of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ivory Coast, said that a lull in the fighting appeared to have taken hold during the day.

"Abidjan is a human tragedy," he explained by telephone from the embattled city.

"People just weren't prepared for a battle that is lasting as long as this," Geha added.

"Water has been cut for four days now in Abidjan. Throughout the city, it started area by area."

"In some areas, Abobo, they haven't had water since the beginning of the crisis. Since Saturday or Sunday there hasn't been any water. It is still cut."

Geha said people had not been able to stock up with food and supplies in time, while most shops had been looted.

"The price of bread, cigarettes, a bag of wheat has tripled... everything has tripled over the past 48 hours, since there has been a lull," he added.

Troops loyal to the internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara have cornered veteran strongman Gbagbo in his bunker in the west African nation's main city, but Gbagbo has refused to surrender power.

Geha said he managed to venture out onto the streets of Abidjan for the first time in days on Friday, a day after Ouattara announced the blockade of Gbagbo's residence and appealed for national reconciliation.

The UN aid offocial said he even went out once "alone by car", although he heard appeals for help from people who were injured or seeking evacuation.

However, only a few people dared to go out into town despite the lull. "Life hasn't resumed yet," Geha added.

Bodies were reported to be lying in the streets while aid organisations warned of a humanitarian crisis with people locked in their homes without food and medicine, and foreigners queued to flee Ivory Coast.

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