Situation remains both grim and fluid as LAURENT GBAGBO stays put precipitating a humanitarian crisis of worsening proportions
As many as 1 million people have been driven from their homes in Côted’Ivoire in the months-long turmoil stemming from the outgoing president’s refusal to leave office, with violence mounting and his loyalists using heavy weapons against civilians, the United Nations said last month. “The deteriorating security situation and the escalation in the use of heavy weapons has had a serious toll on the lives and well-being of the Ivorian people,” Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Atul Khare told the Security Council, ascribing most of the violence to forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who lost a UN-certified and internationally recognised election to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara last November.
“The human rights situation is very grave, with a high number of human rights violations reported,” he said of the violence that has beset Abidjan, the commercial capital, and the western regions as a result of Mr Gbagbo’s refusal to respect the results of a democratic election meant to reunite a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-held south and rebel-controlled north. “The massive displacement in Abidjan and elsewhere is being fueled by fears of all-out war,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a news briefing in Geneva. “This week, we have seen panic in Abidjan as thousands of youths have responded to the call for civilians to join the ranks of forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.” Showing slides, Mr Khare detailed some of the worst attacks of the past three months, including an attack by pro-Gbagbo security forces loyal using heavy machine guns against a group of women demonstrating peacefully in Abidjan’s Abobo neighbourhood in support of President Ouattara, killing seven and seriously wounding many more.
In another instance Gbagbo loyalists fired several mortar shells into an Abobo market, killing more than 25 people and wounding more than 40 others. In all, 462 people have been killed since violence erupted in September. More than 93,000 people have fled across the western border into Liberia, while up to 1 million others have been internally displaced, Mr Khare said. The 9,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which has been supporting the stabilisation efforts over the past seven years, is mandated to protect civilians. Earlier this year the Security Council not only rebuffed Mr Gbagbo’s demand for its withdrawal but also authorised the immediate deployment of 2,000 additional troops and three armed helicopters.
received reports an additional 200 nationals of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including people from Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea and Togo, had been killed in the Guiglo area in western Côte d’Ivoire. ECOWAS supports Ouattara. “In general, we are extremely concerned about the worsening situation,
particularly given the continuing incitement by the outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, voiced serious concern over the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. “I call on those involved in the violence to respect civilians, including aid workers, and to allow rapid, safe and unimpeded access by humanitarian organisations,” she said
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