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The UN Says Violence Threatens Food Relief in Western Ivory Coast


The United Nations World Food Program is warning that deliveries to a particularly volatile town in the western part of Ivory Coast have been jeopardized by disturbances that threaten the safety of UN World Food Program workers and thousands of refugees from Liberia and Burkina Faso they care for. The WFP is being forced to halt all operations throughout Ivory Coast until further notice after last week’s violence in the western town of Guiglo, which forced most aid organizations to relocate their staffs.

WFP West Africa spokesman Marcus Prior tells English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser, “It’s quite clear that anybody related to the United Nations, obviously including the World Food Program, was targeted. We’re very relieved that none of our staff have been harmed in any way. We’re also, though, very concerned that the situation remains far too dangerous for our staff to return and to continue the very important work that they do there.”

Mr. Prior says there was extensive looting of food and UN equipment last week, supposedly in response to violent protests against recommendations made by a visiting UN advisory panel that said President Laurent Gbagbo should dismiss the Ivorian parliament. As a consequence, says the WFP spokesman, “We also have to find replacement for up to 700 thousand tons of food that’s been looted from our two warehouses in Guiglo, and also for about a hundred thousand dollars worth of office supplies and office equipment which had been lifted when it was ransacked last week.”

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