Meeting with senior government officials and members of the UN Country team today, Carolyn McAskie, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Humanitarian Envoy for the Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, kicked off an eight-day mission to evaluate the current humanitarian situation and launch a new humanitarian appeal for that country. On Friday, Ms. McAskie is scheduled to visit the country’s volatile west to get a first-hand look at conditions there, and on Monday, she will participate in the launch of the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal to meet basic humanitarian needs in Côte d’Ivoire and five neighbouring countries. This new appeal covers a longer term and is more comprehensive than the Flash Appeal issued in November 2002. Humanitarian agencies received 41.5 per cent of the $22 million in funding required under that Appeal. As the Envoy’s assessment mission gets underway, the UN estimates that 750,000 Ivorians have been displaced since fighting between rebels and the Ivoirian Government broke out last September. The ensuing unrest, marked by ethnic clashes, grave human rights violations and violent civil protests over a French-brokered power-sharing accord, were the focus of a similar West African mission Ms. McAskie undertook in January, which included Côte d’Ivoire as well as Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Mali. She returns to the region amid reports that the resources of families hosting the displaced are gradually being overwhelmed as fighting has caused Côte d’Ivoire’s economy – once the engine of West Africa – to stagnate. The conflict has forced migrant workers from neighbouring countries to flee, compounding the region’s economic slowdown. While there have been positive signs that a peace accord is taking root, reports of human rights abuses against civilians continue to come in, particularly from the west of the country.