News / Africa

Ivory Coast Exhuming Dozens of Mass Graves

Forensic scientists and doctors prepare for the exhumation of a mass grave site on the grounds of a mosque, in the Yopougon district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, April 4, 2013.
Forensic scientists and doctors prepare for the exhumation of a mass grave site on the grounds of a mosque, in the Yopougon district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, April 4, 2013.
Ivory Coast has begun exhuming dozens of mass graves containing bodies from the country’s 2010-2011 post-election violence.  At a ceremony in Abidjan’s Yopougon district on Thursday, officials said the process would provide closure to families and help bring perpetrators of crimes to justice.  

A government census has identified 57 graves for exhumation in the commercial capital of Abidjan, and many of those are believed to contain multiple bodies.  A national census of mass graves has yet to be conducted, but officials have said the exhumation effort will eventually extend throughout the country.

An Ivorian Red Cross worker photographs an area claimed to be a mass grave on May 4, 2011 during a mission to collect corpses in Yopougon, a district to the west of Abidjan.An Ivorian Red Cross worker photographs an area claimed to be a mass grave on May 4, 2011 during a mission to collect corpses in Yopougon, a district to the west of Abidjan.
x
An Ivorian Red Cross worker photographs an area claimed to be a mass grave on May 4, 2011 during a mission to collect corpses in Yopougon, a district to the west of Abidjan.
An Ivorian Red Cross worker photographs an area claimed to be a mass grave on May 4, 2011 during a mission to collect corpses in Yopougon, a district to the west of Abidjan.
The violence in Ivory Coast was triggered by former President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down after losing the November 2010 presidential runoff vote to his rival, current President Alassane Ouattara. More than 3,000 people died in five months of fighting, according to the United Nations.

On Thursday, Justice Minister Gnenema Coulibaly presided over a ceremony at the site of the first grave to be exhumed.  The grave is located on the grounds of a mosque in Yopougon, and contains the bodies of four men who were killed in an attack on the mosque in April 2011.

Coulibaly said exhumations of hastily dug graves were an important part of moving on from the conflict.

“Two years after this tragedy, many bodies remain at rest in public spaces, including places of worship,” he said. “It’s absolutely necessary to proceed with exhumations to allow families to grieve, and to permit judicial investigations to find the truth.”

Coulibaly said that 36 of the 57 graves identified for exhumation were located in the Yopougon district, a part of the city where fighters loyal to both Gbagbo and Ouattara allegedly committed killings on a large scale, according to reports from journalists, rights groups and the U.N.

Issiaka Diaby, president of the Collective of Victims in Ivory Coast, said it was difficult for residents of the district to embrace reconciliation when their dead relatives had not been properly laid to rest.

“The exhumation of these bodies is a very good thing, because it was not easy for the parents to come to this mosque and pray when their relatives were buried just outside,” he said. “And when you think about cases where bodies were buried in houses and other places, the exhumation process will reduce the suffering of their parents and also reduce the desire for revenge.”

The ceremony on Thursday included prayers led by Muslim and Christian leaders, as well as a moment of silence for victims of the fighting.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs