News / Africa

New Ivory Coast Unrest Displaces Thousands

Injured man lies on ground after clash with police at  market in Abobo neighborhood in Abidjan, Oct. 15, 2012.
Injured man lies on ground after clash with police at market in Abobo neighborhood in Abidjan, Oct. 15, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
— In the past two weeks, three attacks have killed at least 13 people and displaced thousands in western Ivory Coast.

Local officials say the attacks in Ivory Coast were carried out by armed groups crossing the border from neighboring Liberia.  Ivorian combatants and Liberian mercenaries fled into Liberia when Ivory Coast's post-election conflict ended nearly two years ago, and Human Rights Watch has accused them of involvement in sporadic attacks dating as far back as July 2011.

The post-election conflict was sparked by the refusal of former President Laurent Gbagbo to concede defeat in the November 2010 vote against his successor, President Alassane Ouattara.

The recent attacks have been early-morning raids.  On March 13, gunmen killed two soldiers and five civilians in the town of Zilebly.  A raid on March 21 resulted in no deaths, though three assailants were arrested and weapons including AK-47s were recovered.  Two days later, an attack on a village outside the town of Blolequin resulted in six deaths, three of them assailants.

U.N. refugee agency senior protection officer Jackie Keegan says more than 6,000 people fled in response to the three attacks, and that roughly 2,700 were still displaced.

“Many of these villages were entirely emptied during the post-election crisis and remained empty for months into 2011," said Keegan. "Both the communities that fled and the communities that are now hosting them are really just recovering now from that experience.  And the destruction of villages and also of stocks, including grain stocks, is going to have a significant impact on their ability to reestablish themselves.”

Of the estimated 2,700 displaced people, 1,700 are living with host families.  Keegan noted they might need food “should the situation continue for much longer,” and said the World Food Program is evaluating the situation.

The remaining 1,000 are living on four sites specifically designated for the displaced, where they have received food from local authorities and also vaccinations.

Besides causing the most significant displacement in the region this year, the recent attacks have also disrupted the return of refugees from Liberia.  The United Nations said the March 21 attack prevented a convoy of 160 Ivorians from making the trip back to their home country.

Keegan said the attacks could also discourage other refugees from making the decision to return.

“Refugees, of course, have the right to make a decision about whether they are prepared to return at any moment, and it is natural that after a series of attacks of this sort that the number of candidates for return drops, which is what happened last year," Keegan added. "I think it is very natural - people start to ask questions about the durability of their return.”

U.N. officials in Liberia said this week that they had temporarily halted the repatriation of refugees pending an improved security situation across the border.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid