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.
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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid