While the eyes of the world have been focused on the political and humanitarian struggles in North Africa, Sudan, and Japan, a significant crisis has developed in the Ivory Coast. Since the disputed presidential elections in November, escalating conflict has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes; while most remain displaced within the country’s borders, an estimated 80,000 have sought protection in neighboring Liberia. The economic crisis resulting from the violence and the ban on the export of cocoa, the country’s most important crop, continues. Efforts to broker a political settlement have been elusive and humanitarian funding has been insufficient. A resolution to the political stalemate is needed to avoid continuing violence, displacement and economic damage.
On March 22, the Project on Internal Displacement and the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion to explore the political and humanitarian crisis in the Ivory Coast. The event featured a presentation by Dr. Chaloka Beyani, United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons. Following his remarks, Margaret McKelvey, director of the Office of Assistance for Africa at the State Department, Sarah Margon, associate director for sustainable security at the Center for American Progress, and Ann Hollingsworth, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, offered commentary.
Brookings Distinguished Visiting Fellow Ezra Suruma provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, panelists took audience questions.