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

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 VOA EXCLUSIVE: 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

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.
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