Prior to the start of the political crisis in 2002, international organizations were optimistic about successes made on Gbagbo's part with regard to domestic affairs. The World Bank decided to resume lending at US $240 million with budgetary support to follow. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU), and France committed to giving support to Gbagbo's government, which was expected to bring bilateral donors back onto the scene. French support is critical to Côte d'Ivoire because so much of the nation's economy is based on the export of agricultural products to other nations and the receipt of European aid and loans from international banking institutions, some of which were suspended after the December 1999 coup.
Regionally, Gbagbo champions a more economically integrated West Africa, and relations with neighbors generally improved prior to September 2002. Gbagbo's visit with President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso in December 2001 helped reduce tensions with Burkina Faso over immigration and guest worker issues. Compaoré was suspected to have backed the coup plotters of January 2001. However, Burkina Faso and Mali reinforced security on their borders and were expected to continue to pressure Côte d'Ivoire to control Ivoirian xenophobia.
In April 2003, the UN launched an appeal for US $85.8 million in donor funds for approximately 2.8 million people in West Africa who were victims of the 2002–03 civil war in Côte d'Ivoire. The funds were to be used to aid 750,000 internally displaced people within Côte d'Ivoire and an estimated 400,000 people who were forced to flee to Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Liberia, and Ghana. It is clear that the unrest in Côte d'Ivoire was causing serious problems in the region. The crisis was regarded by the UN as being particularly destabilizing for Liberia, where Charles Taylor's government was losing ground to two rebel movements; more than 70% of the country was inaccessible to aid workers due to the fighting.
By the end of December 2002, close to 2,500 French troops were in Côte d'Ivoire, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sent a peacekeeping force, ECOFORCE, to stabilize the situation. At the end of April 2003, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan requested US $48 million from the Security Council for ECOFORCE, to triple its troop size to 3,300 and extend its mandate. ECOFORCE was originally established to monitor the implementation of the January 2003 peace accord; its expanded role is to include protection of the government and border controls, particularly along the border with Liberia, and to take responsibility for demobilizing and disarming militias and creating conditions for the government of national unity and reconciliation to have full control of the territory.