New Post by Nina Sheth, Humanitarian Superstar

8 Apr

A wonderful new post by Nina on her thoughts on Cote d’Ivoire (which she had to evacuate following the elections), and her experiences in Liberia (where she has recently begun working for the IRC). Needless to say Nina is a badass of the most awesome sort.

From The Year of the Elephant:

Sometimes it is hard to believe that we have actually made progress as a global community. We have developed all of the forceful language to defend the concept of human rights, democracy and freedom of expression, we have put peacekeepers on the ground in conflict prone countries, and yet four and a half months later the the United Nations, the United States, Western Europe, the African Union and ECOWAS have all failed to oust Laurent Gbagbo from power.

He has continued to trick and manipulate, living up to his nick name “le boulanger” which comes from the french expression “rouler quelqu’un dans la farine” or manipulate and deceive them. As Outtara’s forces rapild moved southward, everyone thought Gbagbo would be out by the end of the weekend, and one week later he is still hiding out in his bunker, surrounded by forces who remain loyal to him, and these forces are surrounded by the United Nations. The standoff remains while families in Abidjan risk their lives in search of food and water; spend their days in the dark and in constant fear. I have talked to friends and co-workers who are trying their best to keep up their morale, but every day they say, it gets harder and harder.While it pains me that there is little I can do to help those who welcomed me in when I was new and terrified, I feel deeply grateful that I have been given the opportunity to continue working with the IRC in Liberia. In the two and a half weeks that I have been here, I helped put together a proposal for a 500,000-euro grant to strengthen our medical operations on the border of Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire and next week I will be going up to Nimba County, where the IRC is implementing emergency response programs for refugees and the host communities that have taken them in. Liberia is a challenging place, and the effects of a 14 year long civil war are abundantly clear – there is no electricity system and the entire country runs on generators. While it is easy to get lost in the tragedy of what Liberians went through, I have come to see the tremendous generosity. Despite the poverty and shortage of resources, Liberians have welcomed Ivoirians into their homes and communities, expressing their desire to help Ivoirians in their time of need, as Ivoirians during the Liberian war. These kinds of situations can often bring out the worst in people but also brings out an unimaginable generosity. We can only hope that as the refugee crisis continues to evolve, the generosity will continue and that Liberia will maintain its fragile peace.

While the western news media has only recently increased its coverage of the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and may soon move on to something else, I ask you all to keep it in your hearts and minds.


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