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UN Sends 2,000 More Peacekeepers to Ivory Coast

  • Larry Freund

A UN peacekeeper in Ivory Coast (file photo)

A UN peacekeeper in Ivory Coast (file photo)

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to send 2,000 additional peacekeepers to Ivory Coast, adding to the 9,000 U.N. troops and civilians already in the country.

All 15 members of the Security Council approved a resolution authorizing the deployment of 2,000 additional military personnel to Ivory Coast until June 30.

The resolution also expresses deep concern over the continued violence and human rights violations in Ivory Coast, including those against United Nations personnel and civilians. The Security Council stressed that those responsible for crimes against U.N. personnel and civilians must be held accountable.

There has been continuing violence in Ivory Coast since the country’s disputed election in November. The incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, has refused to step aside for the widely recognized winner of the presidential election, Alassane Ouattara.

In a related development, two United Nations human rights specialists warned against the possibility of genocide in Ivory Coast.

Francis Deng, Special Adviser to the U.N. Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, called for urgent steps to avert the risk of genocide. Edward Luck, Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, told reporters he is particularly disturbed by allegations that armed forces and militia groups that back opposing groups are recruiting and arming ethnic groups allied to each camp.

He pointed to ethnic clashes in several areas of Ivory Coast.

"There is a real risk that such clashes could spread across the country," said Luck "If not checked, they could culminate in mass atrocities. We urge all parties in Cote d’Ivoire to refrain from inflammatory speech that incites hatred and violence. Those responsible for committing atrocities or their incitement will be held accountable."

Luck added his fear that, as he put it, we are on the brink of something that could be very ugly, very destructive. But, he went on, we have not crossed over the precipice yet.