afrol News, 4 March - Following systematic power and water cuts, central, northern and western areas of Côte d'Ivoire are now suffering from poor sanitation and disrupted medical facilities.
Only yesterday, the Ivorian electricity company denied any responsibility for the power cuts, which began on 28 February. The company said officials loyal to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo had made the cuts "for national security reasons."
The areas affected are mostly controlled by forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of the November 2010 presidential elections.
Eyewitnesses in Côte d'Ivoire, speaking to the human rights group Amnesty International, confirm that water and power supplies have been cut in these parts of the country, causing great sanitary problems. Amnesty today warned of "a deepening humanitarian crisis in Côte d'Ivoire."
"Outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo must immediately order the reestablishment of water and electricity supplies in these areas," said Gaëtan Mootoo of the human rights group.
"The whole sanitary system in these areas is being affected and is stopping medical personnel from carrying out their work which could lead to the spread of disease," added Mr Mootoo.
A senior doctor in the town of Man in the west of the country, told Amnesty that is was "nearly impossible to carry out surgery as we only have one electric generator."
"We are running short of fuel. This will have dramatic consequences for people needing urgent care. This is particularly true for pregnant women needing emergency obstetric care including Caesarean sections," the doctor added.
The situation is also reported to be worsening in the country's second largest city, Bouaké, in the north. Bouaké is a stronghold of Mr Ouattara.
A senior doctor there said that, as there was no electricity, "we cannot receive people who need urgent care during the night as we only have torches. The sick cannot wash themselves or go to the toilets in safe conditions."
The cuts however also have started affecting areas controlled by those authorities loyal to Mr Gbagbo in the west.
In the town of Duékoué, a social worker told Amnesty: "All the sanitary facilities are blocked. People are now getting water from wells and small ponds and rivers where water is unsafe. This could lead to widespread epidemics such as cholera."
The human rights group nevertheless is blaming Mr Gbagbo for this new type of social warfare. "Laurent Gbagbo's administration has shown a blatant disregard for the right to safe water and sanitation recognised by international law," said Mr Mootoo.
"The government is obliged to ensure continuous access to water and ensure that the right to health and right to adequate housing is not jeopardised by power cuts," he added.
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