Families living in the Ivory Coast are running short of basic foods as the west African country’s political deadlock continues.
Food warehouses have been shut because of security worries triggered by the country’s disputed election, leaving many people already out of basics such as meat and fish.
Last night (Tues), the West African regional body the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) held emergency talks to try and solve the power struggle.
Laurent Gbagbo says he is the president because Ivory Coast's constitutional council annulled nearly 10 per cent of ballots cast last month, giving him 51 per cent of the vote. And opposition leader Alassane Ouattara says he is the president because the United Nations certified the original electoral results that show him winning 54 per cent of the vote. Ecowas says Alassane Ouattara won the 28 November poll.
Both have the support of rival armed rebels who say they will restart their fight if Gbagbo does not step down for Ouattara. The United Nations is moving more than 400 non-essential staff to Gambia.
Meanwhile refugees are to pour into neighbouring Liberia. More than 600 people have crossed the border into Nimba county since late last week, said Morris Nelson, who works for the Liberian refugee agency. "At the moment we are building tents where these refugees can seek refuge for the meantime,” he told US broadcaster, The Voice of America. “But what is more alarming is that these Ivorians do not have any food to eat," he said. "So we are calling on humanitarian organisations like the World Food Programme to hurriedly come in to provide support to these Ivorian refugees."
Sutue Dueo was one of those who left the Ivory Coast because of the turmoil. "My heart is just burning and I am weeping inside of me because I love so much my country," she said.
Fellow Refugee Solomon Weh said: "I don't really know what is going to happen over there. I can't think for me to go back over there again.”
The world's largest cocoa producer has been split since a 2002 civil war. The election is starting to look like an extension of the last 10-plus years of political instability.
As well as shortages of food, petrol and cooking gas, there are also reports of price rises with sugar apparently tripling in price, according to BBC reports.