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Ivory Coast to Compensate Thousands of Conflict Victims

FILE - Youths loyal to Laurent Gbagbo carry homemade weapons and a gun as they heed a call from youth leader Charles Ble Goude, not pictured, to form 'self-defense' units to protect against rebels, in the Youpougon district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Feb. 2

Five years after the end of Ivory Coast’s second civil war, the government has released a list of over 300,000 people it considers as entitled to compensation for crimes suffered during both wars and as a result of political crises stretching back to 1990.

CONARIV, the government agency responsible for compensating victims received 800,000 applications. All but about a third of them were rejected.

CONARIV commissioner, Françoise Kaudjhis-Offoumou, says the main challenge was the verification of all the applications. She says some people were listed twice, some applications were incomplete and there were also cases of fraud.

The agency put the claims in four categories: gender-based violence, serious injury, murder and forced disappearance, and damage to property. Eighty four percent of claims are in that fourth category - damage to property.

The final list of more than 300,000 names has been submitted to the presidency for approval.

For Idrissa Diaby, president of the CVCI, a victims’ association, the list has been long-awaited.

He says it’s a relief to see the list being handed to the government in order to execute programs in favor of the victims.

Last year, a partial list of 24,500 victims of the 2010-2011 post-election conflict was released. It led to payments of about $260 for people who were injured, plus coverage of their medical fees, and as much as $1,700 per family to relatives of those killed.

Diaby says compensation is an important symbolic act, but people orphaned, widowed or disabled by the war also need long-term assistance.

He says this kind of social reintegration is a strong way to prevent future violence.