By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast—Thousands of people in the Ivory Coast recently began to flee their homes after continuous land conflicts and residual tension left from last year’s violence after the elections. This information was reported from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center. The Center noted that 24,000 people were displaced just this year. Further, an additional 40,000 to 80,000 are still displaced from the conflict, according to what was called “conservative estimates” by the Monitoring Center.
Just last year, the nation was pushed almost to the brink of a civil war after the disputed presidential elections that were meant to unite the divided country after an earlier conflict. The former President of the country, Laurent Gbagbo, is now on trial at the International Criminal Court for war crimes, even though both sides of the conflict are accused of committing a number of atrocities. The Hague has accused the former President of crimes against humanity after Gbagbo used security forces to terrorize citizens in Abidjan. More than 3,000 people were killed and an uncounted number of individuals were raped and mistreated.
The United Nation’s assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, mentioned that he was in the Ivory Coast in order to discuss the security situation with the nation’s authorities. He said, “I hope to discuss with governmental authorities, civil society, the victims and other actors what needs to be done to prevent a deterioration of the situation, to strengthen the protection of civilians, prevent further atrocities and improve the human rights situation in general.”
In June of this year, the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission in the Ivory Coast reported that its own forces were attacked by a number of unidentified assailants while patrolling along the Liberian border. Members of the mission said that an undetermined number of Ivory Coast citizens were killed as well as seven members of the United Nation’s peacekeeping unit.
The Monitoring Center has called for efforts to protect against future crises that might displace more Ivory Coast citizens as well as to help those who are still displaced to return to their homes and to their land. Elizabeth Rushing, the Monitoring Center’s West African analyst said, “For the vast majority of internally displaced people, who are reliant on their land to survive, these (land) restrictions have devastating consequences.” She also added that “many simply di not have enough to feed their families.”
For further information, please see:
Bellingham Herald – Reports: Thousands Continue to Flee Ivory Coast – 28 November 2012
San Antonio Express – Thousands Continue to Flee Homes in Ivory Coast – 28 November 2012
UPI – UN Assessing Situation in Ivory Coast – 28 November 2012
New York Times – Ivory Coast Update – 30 November 2011