News / Africa

UN Troops in Ivory Coast Under Increasing Pressure

Jordanian UN soldiers drive in a armored personnel carrier, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 1, 2011
Jordanian UN soldiers drive in a armored personnel carrier, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 1, 2011
Drew Hinshaw

The United Nations says attacks against its peacekeepers in Ivory Coast may constitute war crimes.  

The 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers currently deployed in Ivory Coast are there, according to the U.N. mandate, to prevent a repeat of the 2002 civil war that divided this country between its mostly Muslim north and Christian south.

But increasingly, those peacekeepers find themselves involved in what appears to be the country's second civil war.  In the past week, as hostilities increased in the country's west, U.N. personnel in the country's commercial capital Abidjan have been shot at, blocked in the roads by angry young men, and even kidnapped.

For the most part, the attacks have come from soldiers and supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president, and a Christian southerner, who the United Nations says lost last November's elections.

Gbagbo has characterized the U.N. as an occupying army, coming to impose the will of the former colonizer France, and demanded the departure of the peacekeeping presence.

The U.N. says it won't go because it recognizes President Gbagbo's opponent, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the November vote.  The U.N. mission's chief, Young-jin Choi, says that if pro-Gbagbo forces continue to attack U.N. personnel,  Gbagbo could be one day tried for war crimes.

There had been a degree of moderation until now where the military forces of Laurent Gbagbo did not shoot directly, except for a few exceptional occasions in the past, he says.  But the other day, in the opposition stronghold of Abobo, he says three peacekeepers received bullets in their helmets.   He says if they didn't have helmets they would have died on the spot.  That's a very serious attack, he adds, and he says we have warned Gbagbo's camp not to repeat this, that it's a war crime to attack U.N. peacekeepers.

The U.N. says it has reports that the entrenched incumbent president is preparing for a second round of civil war in this country, whose once-vibrant economy was already ruined by its first.  The U.N. says  Gbagbo may be recruiting Liberian mercenaries, left over from that neighboring country's 14-year civil war.  He is also said to have flown in assault helicopters purchased from Belarus.

The U.N. was unable to confirm those reports, however, because their inspectors were attacked when they tried to visit the landing pad.

Choi says they've been blocked from visiting all kinds of hotspots in this increasingly chaotic nation, mostly by pro-Gbagbo militias.

He says those militias are being stirred into action by Gbagbo's propaganda -- except that they may be going farther than even the incumbent president is willing to go.

He says there has been a transformation of what had been moderate harassment into direct acts of hostility, which are extreme.  Therefore, he says, it seems that President Gbagbo may have lost control of his army.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs