(HN, March 24, 2011) ---- The crisis in Ivory Coast is just days away from a violent climax, with sources on the ground predicting that an all-out civil war will consume the West African nation.
At Abidjan's Golf Hotel, UN forces are protecting Alassane Ouattara, who won a Nov. 28 election according to UN-certified results. One source said the hotel could be attacked by forces loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down. That would likely precipitate an all out civil war.
HUMNEWS understands that family members of Ouattara were evacuated last Sunday and move to safe havens.
Said the source: "The situation is pretty dire. It is unfortunate that so many other events have stolen the headlines from Ivory Coast."
The confirmed death toll from the conflict to 462. Another 450,000 people have fled their homes.
Armed thugs are on the increase and operating with abandon. Last week a mortar attack on an impoverished village called Attecoube killed one person, seriously injured 18, and 4 of the seriously injured died later in hospital. The source said that as such attacks take place, UN forces stand by idly. Indeed, there are growing complaints from inside and outside the country over inaction as the toll from the crisis mounts.
“There is a UN force on the ground. I think it should, without doubt, play its role more efficiently because it has a mandate that allows it to use force if there are clashes or there is violence,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told France 2 television.
Many members of the UN force are from Bangladesh and Jordan. The source told HUMNEWS that they have been mostly ineffective. Nigeria also typically deploys many members of its military to UN missions in West Africa.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed French-trained, Togolese Major General Gnakoude Berena as the new force commander of the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), replacing Major General Abdul Hafiz of Bangladesh.
Nigeria, the current leader of West Africa’s 15-nation ECOWAS bloc, has accused the international community of double standards for imposing a no-fly zone in Libya but doing little in Ivory Coast.
Said the source: "I ashamed to say UN forces stand by and do nothing of an atrocity within site of their HQ. They are operating under Chapter VII mission (the same authority given against Libya), yet the troops are hopeless."
Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia has said the UN must endorse any use of force to remove Gbagbo, adding that a blockade was an option if peaceful efforts fail.
“The Ivory Coast is no longer on the brink of civil war, it has already begun”, said Louis Arbour, CEO of the International Crisis Group and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, who called on Ecowas to take ‘decisive political and military measures.'
- HUMNEWS staff