Issouf Sanogo / AFP / Getty Images
Residents gather on the street where security forces loyal to Ivory Coast’s strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least six women, on March 3, 2011 in Abobo, a working class neighborhood of Abidjan.
Elspeth Lodge March 4, 2011 – 1:52 pm
Conflict in the Ivory Coast has put the nation on the cusp of a civil war. Below, what it’s all about, and the actions being taken to remedy the situation.
What’s the country’s current situation?
The Ivory Coast is on the brink of civil war due to conflict between forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo and the man internationally held to have defeated him in November’s second round presidential election, Alassane Outtara.
What’s being planned to dissolve the conflict?
The African Union tasked a panel of five African presidents in January to come up with a solution, accepted by both camps, by the end of February. The panel met in February to consider solutions, but near the end of the month the deadline was pushed to the end of March. Now, the panel find themselves returning to mediate the raging political crisis on Friday. “The five (presidents) will meet for two hours in Nouakchott before taking their flight to Abidjan,” said a Mauritanian diplomatic source.
OK. So who’s on the panel?
It’s headed by Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and includes Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, South African President Jacob Zuma, Idriss Deby Itno of Chad and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso.
What’s behind the recent escalation in the conflict?
Animosity erupted Thursday when UN peacekeeping chief, Alain Le Roy, told the UN security council that pro-Gbagbo forces opened fire with machine guns on a group of women demonstrators, killing at least six, in the northern Abobo neighborhood of Abidjan, a staunchly pro-Ouattara area. The Security Council urged the UN mission on the coast, ONUCI, including 11,000 troops. “to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate, in particular to protect civilians.”
What effect is the violence having on aid agencies?
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced on Friday that due to erupting violence they have halted their mission to build a camp for displaced people on the western Ivory Coast and suspended activities there. UNHCR spokeswoman, Melissa Flemming, said approximately 70,000 people have been displaced in the west due to heavy clashes around the towns of Duekoue and Blolequin. She told journalists in Geneva “We’re not operating there anymore, unfortunately, due to the fighting and insecurity.”
Aid agencies have been forced by violence in he area of Abidjan to cut-back in delivering their services to approximately 200,000 displaced people.
“We do still have our staff in Abidjan, but we see roadblock outside our office. It is now very difficult for us to move around and reach the people in need, we’re having to rely more and more on local NGOs,” said Ms. Flemming.