Just a few short months after Ivory Coast’s presidential elections, the high hopes of reuniting the country already seem like a distant dream. Instead of a return to prosperity for the world’s leading cocoa exporter, elections marked a return to brutal conflict—and with it, a severe humanitarian crisis.
The incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who delayed presidential elections for the past five years, refused to step down for months following the vote, despite international recognition of his challenger, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner. Violence between the two factions escalated rapidly, reigniting ethnic conflicts over cocoa land rights in the western part of the country. Hundreds have been killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced, with refugees pouring into neighboring Liberia. Electricity, water and humanitarian aid were cut off from entire regions. Employment is non-existent. As Ivorians continue to flee into neighboring countries, the situation threatens the stability of West Africa.
Photojournalist Peter DiCampo began photographing in western Ivory Coast on the day that Gbagbo stepped down. His coverage includes the growing health and displacement crisis in the west and in Abidjan, as well as testimonies from the conflict’s victims—revealing that the recent shift in political power will not be enough to immediately stem the flow of violence. The situation is fraught with uncertainty, and the eyes of the international community are seemingly directed at every major crisis except this one.