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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs