Five months into the Libyan crisis that seeks to nurture democracy by clearing out the long-running Murmur Gaddafi dictatorial regime, the Libyan leader digs in precariously. Part of the reasons is the environment Gaddafi finds himself in – Africa, where he has like-minded leaders.
27 April 2011 –The post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire may have ended but thousands of civilians are still suffering from the consequences of the four months of turmoil that engulfed the West African nation and require increased humanitarian assistance, the United Nations said today.
UN aid officials have estimated that up to 1 million Ivorians have been displaced by the violence, with some internally displaced and others forced to flee into neighbouring countries – particularly Liberia, which is hosting 135,000 Ivorians.
The crisis ended earlier this month when Laurent Gbagbo finally surrendered, ending months of violence that erupted in the wake of his refusal to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off election last November to Alassane Ouattara.
While the fighting has ended, UN relief officials say ongoing insecurity in some places, as well as difficulties in accessing essential health, education and sanitation services, is increasing the vulnerability of the population.
“A greater proportion of the population has been directly or indirectly affected by the crisis which started late last year. These populations should be assisted without further delay to enable them to live in acceptable conditions and regain their dignity,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire, Ndolamb Ngokwey.
The UN has already deployed an evaluation team, known as UNDAC, to Abidjan and the country’s west, both of which bore the brunt of the recent violence. In the west, the team confirmed persistent needs in the areas of shelter, food security, health care, water and sanitation, access to education and protection.
The priority needs in the area include the distribution of tarpaulins, kitchen utensils, mats and other non-food items, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In addition, the presence of arms and the risk of sexual abuse require urgent attention.
In the area of health, OCHA noted that despite the looting of health centres, pharmacies and maternities, medical personnel have started to resume work. It also cited the need to accelerate vaccination programmes for children, as well as rehabilitate water pumps and promote basic hygiene practices.
In the commercial capital of Abidjan, assessment teams have highlighted the need to assist the Government in the areas of civilian protection, health, education and public hygiene, including lightening the burden put on overstretched referral hospitals due to an absence of operational dispensaries and community health facilities.
“With the impending rainy season, clearing of drainage and cleaning of conduits, markets and other public places would be necessary to prevents epidemics of diseases such as cholera,” stated Laurent Dufour, UNDAC’s Team Leader in Côte d’Ivoire.
Earlier this month, UN agencies and their partners launched an appeal for $160 million to provide food security, nutrition, education, protection, water, health care and sanitation to as many as 2 million people throughout Côte d’Ivoire. To date, the appeal is 20 per cent funded, according to OCHA.
UN News Center
14 April 2011 –Although the political stand-off in Côte d’Ivoire ended earlier this week, the humanitarian crisis spawned by months of violence continues, United Nations agencies and their partners stressed today as they appeal for $160 million to scale up aid to affected populations inside the country.
Today’s appeal represents a five-fold increase over the $32 million initially sought by aid agencies in January at the onset of the humanitarian crisis stemming from the fighting that ensued after Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off election last November to Alassane Ouattara.
Mr. Gbagbo finally surrendered on Monday after more than four months of turmoil in the West African nation. UN aid officials have estimated that up to 1 million Ivorians have been displaced by the violence, with some internally displaced and others forced to flee into neighbouring countries – particularly Liberia, which is hosting 135,000 Ivorians.
“The humanitarian crisis is not yet over,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire, Ndolamb Ngokwey. “All across the country, it will take many months to restore people’s dignity and rebuild livelihoods.
“Aid agencies will be here as long as it will take but we need to start now. We are asking for only $74 for each person affected,” he stated.
The $160 million appeal aims to provide food security, nutrition, education, protection, water, health care and sanitation to as many as two million people throughout Côte d’Ivoire. It will also allow UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, to significantly scale up relief programmes, notably in the commercial capital of Abidjan and in the west.
The appeal also seeks funding for aid to the north, an area that has received little attention during the past four months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Humanitarian agencies have also appealed for $146 million to address the needs of the Ivorians who have sought refuge in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) reports that the security situation in Abidjan is improving. In addition, water, electricity, and basic services have been restored in some areas, and businesses are re-opening and traffic is returning to the streets.
“I would not be surprised to see that cars, taxis will emerge increasingly in large numbers by the end of the week,” said Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOCI. “We will help encourage people to leave their homes and resume their activities,” he added.
In an effort to do just that, the mission organized a peace parade today in which a caravan of dozens of cars drove through the main streets of Abidjan to mark the improved security situation there.
Mr. Choi, who took part in the event, did acknowledge that some districts of the city were not yet secure, noting for example that there is still sniper fire in Yopougon. He also pledged that UNOCI will continue to help Côte d’Ivoire meet the challenges it faces.
Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for UNOCI, said that Abidjan had seemed like a ghost town for the past several weeks. “People were scared to go out while they were short of basic needs like food, water and medicine,” he told the UN News Centre.
“It [the parade] is a signal to encourage them to try and lead a normal life,” he said, adding that this was the right time to hold such an event since fighting has ended in the city and the post-electoral crisis has reached a turning point with the capture of Mr. Gbagbo.
UN News Center
25 March 2011 –As many as 1 million people have been driven from their homes in Côte d’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, a top United Nations official said today.
“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 recognized 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 that was 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 today. “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.
Just yesterday UN peacekeepers, intervening in Abobo where Gbagbo loyalists were raining mortars down on civilians, opened fire, putting the attackers to flight. The 9,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which has been supporting the stabilization 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 authorized the immediate deployment of 2,000 additional troops and three armed helicopters.
Gbagbo loyalists continue to obstruct UNOCI’s activities by blocking access and attacking personnel, Mr. Khare said. The mission has increased the number of patrols in vulnerable neighbourhoods, is arranging for round-the-clock patrols in Abobo, and is conducting aerial surveillance of Abidjan and the rest of the country. “We believe these measures have prevented further killings,” he added.
He also noted reported attacks by President Ouattara’s supporters, including an alleged assault by so-called “invisible commandos” in which 5,000 people were driven from their homes outside Abidjan.
He warned that an $87 million appeal for aid in Côte d’Ivoire and five neighbouring countries to face a potential major humanitarian crisis was seriously under-funded, “hampering the ability of the United Nations to provide much needed services to those forced to flee their homes.
“Access to those impacted by the ongoing crisis remains a serious concern. It is essential that all sides allow unhindered access for humanitarian actors to reach those in need,” he added.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said today it had received reports, as yet unconfirmed, that 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 Mr. 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.
The UNHCR office in Guiglo was attacked and plundered on Wednesday and three vehicles, two motorbikes and all office equipment and furniture were stolen. “We condemn this plundering of our premises and reiterate our call to all parties to protect civilians and refrain from any further deliberate targeting of humanitarian organizations,” Ms. Fleming said, noting that vehicles were also stolen from several other humanitarian agencies in the area.
The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council today decided to send an independent international commission of inquiry to Côte d’Ivoire to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding allegations of serious rights abuses.
Yesterday, 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 organizations,” she said.
UN News Service
Categories: Issues Tags: Alassane Ouattara, Cote d’Ivoire, Ivorian Defense and Security Forces, ivory coast, president Laurent Gbagbo, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Human Rights Council, United Nations, UNOCI
Since the disputed presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire last November, in which the then incumbent president Mr. Laurent Gbagbo and Mr. Alassane Ouattara, a former prime Minister contested, it has been bad news over and over again for that small country. And it has been a disaster for Africa; a battle-field for reaping dead bodies of civilian population, especially those of women and children as well as a looting mine-field for criminals.
Results from the disputed presidential elections were declared in favor of Mr. Ouattara by the domestic election umpire and upheld by both the UN and AU observers who witnessed the elections. But a compromised Judge, who is alleged to be Mr. Gbagbo’s loyalist, subverted the whole process and countered the electoral Commission’s result in favor of the incumbent president. Mr. Gbagbo refused to relinquish power to the internationally acknowledged winner, Mr. Ouattara, claiming irregularities. The international community, after they exhausted their patience with him, has imposed all kind of sanctions on the country, and also blocked his access to fund from outside the country. The effect has been both gory and devastating. The UNHCR representative, as at last week told BBC that the death-tolls is around 400 as dogs feast on dead bodies in the streets of Abidjan, the nation’s capital. In addition, it had created refugee crisis with over 250000 refugees already moved into neighboring country of Liberia. Liberia is a country recuperating from a 15 year civil strife and still has its own refugee problem to deal with. Why would Mr. Gbagbo create a situation that has the potential to strain the fragile economy? Last month, thousands of Liberian refugees still in Bundubura Camp in Ghana, were at logger’s head with some Ghanaians over the death of one female refugee.
Ivory Coast is a country that has not known many political leaders in its post- independence existence. Since the death of Late President Houphuoet Boigny, who held unto power for many years; the country has been in leadership crisis and Mr. Gbagbo has now become the face of the story. Mr. Gbagbo is a professor of history, so he should not be ignorant of the politico-historical developments in his country. When the death of president Boigny left a leadership vacuum, there arouse a chaotic situation that saw Mr. Bedei and Ouattara as President and Prime Minister. They were both overthrown by General Robert Guei. By the time Gen. Guei, a military officer wanted to transform his government to a civilian government, through a dubious constitutional change, he branded ex-minister Minister Ouattara a foreigner and excluded him from the election process in 2000. Thus, by the time of the elections, the coast was clear for him and Mr. Gbagbo, an election that declared the latter winner but Gen. Guei refused to hand over power to him. What did Mr. Gbagbo do to claim his victory?
It was historic that ECOWAS supported him when he led a mass demonstration against Gen. Guei to hand over power. On the 25th of October 2000, the General left and Gbagbo became president. The same circumstances that brought him to power are not different from those he is killing innocent souls to defend. Why does his ambition for power have no end? Why is he buying guns for students to mow down civilian population?
While the United Nations and the AU are still doing their best to restore normalcy to the Ivory Coast, they must speed up whatever means they chose to use to remove Mr. Gbagbo. He has refused to learn from the Libyan event that continues to unfold every day, the whole world is waiting for him to step down quietly and go into self-exile as did ex-president Charles Ghanky Taylor of Liberia. Mr. Gbagbo would be a threat peaceful governance in the Ivory Coast.
10 March 2011 – A top United Nations official warned today that human rights violations, including rapes, abductions and killings, are escalating amid the ongoing post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, with at least 27 people killed in just the past week.
According to investigations conducted by UN human rights officers in the country, at least 392 people have been killed in Côte d’Ivoire since mid-December amid the unrest resulting from Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to leave office after his UN-certified defeat by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in last November’s presidential election.
“Overall, the situation appears to be deteriorating alarmingly, with a sharp increase in inter-communal and inter-ethnic confrontations,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
“Human rights abuses, including rapes, abductions and killings, are being committed by people supporting both sides,” she added. In addition, families of high-profile individuals known to be politically active have been targeted, media groups seen as pro-Ouattara have been threatened, and the residences of members appointed to the Ouattara Government have been the targets of looting and ransacking.
Ms. Pillay cited the killing last week of seven women by security forces supporting Mr. Gbagbo at a peaceful demonstration in Abobo in support of Mr. Ouattara, saying video footage of the slayings was shocking and could be used to prosecute the individuals responsible.
Another four people were killed in clashes yesterday between the Forces de Défense et de Sécurité (FDS), loyal to Mr. Gbagbo, and the “Invisible Commando,” a previously unknown group which appears to be opposing pro-Gbagbo forces, after a peaceful demonstration to mourn and pay tribute to the seven women killed last week.
The High Commissioner condemned the reported use of civilians as human shields by the Invisible Commando, which is said to be actively preventing civilians from leaving Abobo and other tense areas of the commercial capital, Abidjan.
“I strongly urge all sides to respect the rights of civilians,” said Ms. Pillay. “Particularly worrying is the constant incitement to violence by influential leaders, most notably Blé Goude, who appear to be deliberately stimulating attacks against political opponents, other ethnic groups, nationals from other West African countries, as well as against the UN staff and operations working in Côte d’Ivoire.”
Warning of a risk of a resurgence of the civil war that in 2002 split the country into a Government-held south and a rebel-controlled north, she urged all parties to show utmost restraint to prevent it, and to resolve their differences peacefully.
Also today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that the UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) will maintain its flight operations and take “all necessary measures” to protect its assets and fulfil its mandate, particularly with regards to protecting civilians.
This came after the Ouattara Government issued a statement invalidating a declaration by the authorities supporting Mr. Gbagbo that banned UN and French peacekeeping aircraft from flying over or landing in Côte d’Ivoire.
Mr. Ban deplored this latest attempt to disrupt UNOCI’s operations and warned all parties that any attempt to disrupt flights conducted by the impartial forces is “unacceptable,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
The 9,000-strong UNOCI has been supporting the stabilization and reunification efforts in the country over the past seven years. The Security Council has rejected Mr. Gbagbo’s demands for a withdrawal of the mission, instead extending its mandate and authorizing the deployment of an additional 2,000 troops and three armed helicopters.
The Secretary-General notes with satisfaction the statement issued by the Government of President Ouattara regarding as invalid a declaration by the authorities supporting Mr. Gbagbo, banning United Nations and Licorne flights inside Côte d’Ivoire.
He deplores this latest attempt to disrupt the operations of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and warns all parties that any attempt to disrupt flights conducted by the impartial forces is unacceptable.
The Secretary-General confirms that UNOCI will maintain its flight operations and take all necessary measures, as directed by unanimous Security Council resolutions, to protect its assets and fulfil its mandate, particularly with regards to protection of civilians.UN News Center
28 February 2011 –Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for full compliance with the arms embargo placed on Côte d’Ivoire, in the wake of reports that attack helicopters have been provided to forces loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo.
“The Secretary-General demands full compliance with the arms embargo and warns both the supplier of this military equipment and Mr. Gbagbo that appropriate action will be taken in response to the violation,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued overnight, which noted that the reported delivery of the helicopters and other material could be “a serious violation” of the arms embargo, mandated by the Security Council, which has been in place since 2004.
Côte d’Ivoire has been caught in a political deadlock with growing reports of tension and violence – between rival groups as well as on UN peacekeepers – since Mr. Gbagbo refused to leave office after he was defeated by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in a presidential election held last November.
The spokesperson’s statement added that the violation of the embargo has been brought to the attention of the Security Council committee charged with the responsibility for sanctions against Côte d’Ivoire.
Speaking to the press today, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said that the UN peacekeeping mission in the West African country – the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) – reported that a flight carrying some of the helicopter parts landed at the capital, Yamoussoukro. A team made up of members of the group of experts and an UNOCI officer travelled to the city’s airport but was unable to verify the information and was forced to withdraw when they were fired upon by armed elements.
On Monday, some media reports identified Belarus as the source of the helicopters and equipment. In a statement posted on the website of the country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, in New York, the spokesperson from Belarus’ foreign ministry denied the reports, noting that “the Republic of Belarus has always regarded UN Security Council’s decisions very responsibly.”
In the statement issued overnight, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Secretary-General has asked UNOCI to monitor the situation closely and to take all necessary action, within its mandate, to ensure that the delivered equipment is not prepared for use.
Last week, the Secretary-General reiterated his deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Côte d’Ivoire. Last year’s election was meant to be the culmination of efforts to reunify the country, which was split by civil war in 2002 into a government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.UN News Service