News / Africa

Relief, Rights Groups Say Ivory Coast Civilians in Harm's Way

People walk with their belongings towards a railway station as they leave Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 29, 2010
People walk with their belongings towards a railway station as they leave Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 29, 2010
Julia Ritchey

Relief officials are calling on both sides to avoid civilian casualties in the fight for control of Abidjan as the political crisis in Ivory Coast has already displaced nearly one million people.

Aid agencies and rights organizations are warning of a deteriorating humanitarian situation as fighting between forces loyal to Ivory Coast's rival presidents battle in the streets of the commercial capital Abidjan.

The United Nations has said between 700,000 and one million have already fled the fighting, mostly from Abidjan, and hundreds have been killed in fighting since the country's contentious November presidential elections.

The U.N. Human Rights office said Friday it was alarmed by unconfirmed reports of looting, extortion, abduction and ill-treatment of civilians committed by fighters loyal to internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara who are fighting to unseat incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, says most of the reports are coming from western Ivory Coast where fighters were advancing toward the capital.

“Initially, most of the abuses, if not all the abuses, were by the forces in support of Laurent Gbgabgo - former president - but recently there's been an increase of retaliatory attacks by people on the other side, including a slightly mysterious group called the Invisible Commandos who've been operating against Gbagbo," said Colville.

Colville warned that atrocities committed on either side will be investigated by the International Criminal Court and Human Rights Council.

“We were reminding people on both sides, but I would say particularly on the side of President Ouattara, because these are the forces that are moving into Abidjan, that the commission of inquiry will interview both sides, not just one side," he said. "So there will be consequences if people abuse civilians, no matter which side they're on.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said civilians are trapped by the fighting and can't get access to food, water or medicine.

Speaking at a news conference, head of operations Peter Kraehenbuehl said: "We have experience from many contexts of the region in both Liberia and Sierra Leone and also from Ivory Coast in previous periods of how suddenly a situation can become very unpredictable and violent for civilians that are living in very densely populated areas and where suddenly two parties use heavy weaponry in the middle of these densely populated areas and civilians get caught up in this, they get cut off from supplies, from access to health care."

Kraehenbuehl added that a majority of the refugees are constantly on the move, which has made it difficult to organize relief.  The Red Cross issued a plea for an additional $16 million to help trapped civilians and refugees pouring over the Liberian border. It says it has already distributed emergency supplies to 20,000 displaced people.

Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders issued similar statements of concern and said civilians must be allowed access to medical care.

Doctors Without Borders has treated 450 patients since March, including several hundred in western Ivory Coast. At the only health center still operating in the north of Abidjan, 15  gunshot victims were treated Thursday.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid