Humanitarian crisis emerging from Ivory Coast standoff

By March 9, 2011

Ivory Coast (MNN) — Violence
is stoking the inflamed tensions in the Ivory Coast. There are some who say it's
the worst since 2003.

The mere mention of that time brings inevitable comparison
of the civil war then and what's unfolding since unrest flared following the
November poll after two political rivals declared themselves the winner.

Robert Hale with Wycliffe Bible Translators says, "The violence
has spread, even into the rural areas. There are families being run out of their
villages because of their support of one or the other candidates."

According to Oxfam, more than 70,000 refugees have fled into
Liberia. It's grown into a flood: what was 100 a day has grown to more than 10,000
a day over the last few days. "Obviously,
that has created a humanitarian crisis. The prices of simple goods have gone
up, so not only is there the fear of fighting, but there's the inability to
even feed the family."

A peacekeeping force from the United Nations has been
dispatched to try to keep the country from falling into open civil war. Their presence, however,
hasn't prevented challenges for those trying to travel safely.

Hale says their projects have been interrupted. "Since we have no expatriate missionaries in
the country right now, all of our work is being headed up by our Ivoirian colleagues. Normally,
either a consultant will travel to Abidjan, or the translators will have to
travel out of country to Mali. But this kind of unrest makes both of those
options virtually impossible."

Water and electricity have been turned off for millions of
people in the north. Rebels say the incumbent president, Lauren Gbabgo, nationalized
the electric company after the elections in November. He's using the utilities to punish those who
recognize the election of his opponent, Alassane Ouattara.

Unfortunately, that has also had an impact on Wycliffe. Hale explains, "We do have one project that
is using a satellite hookup for checking sessions over the internet, but I'm
not even sure that they're able to continue even that. A lot of communications
have been closed down. Now that the electricity
has been cut off all across the north of the country, that obviously limits a

With the situation changing hour by hour, Hale asks prayer
for the protection for their translation team and their families. Pray
for another team member, a literacy coordinator named Martin Toualy. "He's been holding trauma healing workshops
in some of the most devastated areas. He travels even during the most difficult
times. I would just pray for his protection and his ministry. He might be able
to reach out to those who are affected by the crisis. Obviously, in these
times it's very hard for him to continue that."

The material Toualy teaches emphasizes God's love and encourages
forgiveness and reconciliation. Ask God to protect the translation students at
the seminary in Abidjan. Pray that the
upheaval won't disrupt their studies. There are more prayer requests here.

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