Saturday, March 26, 2011

UN: One million flee Ivory Coast violence

Families fleeing fighting and unrest in the Abobo neighborhood of Abidjan arrive at a school turned into a makeshift shelter for internally displaced people, near Anyama, on March 25, 2011

Source: Press TV

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says up to one million people in Ivory Coast have fled their homes to safer areas due to post-election violence.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a news conference in Geneva on Friday that the situation was deteriorating in the African country.

"The massive displacement in Abidjan and elsewhere is being fuelled by fears of all-out war," Fleming said.

“Families fleeing areas of conflicts have told UNHCR monitors that they are terrified of being caught up in the fighting and killed by stray bullets," she added.

"Others say they can no longer cope financially due to the closures of banks and businesses and resulting unemployment,” she went on to say.

Fleming pointed out that the estimate of up to a million displaced was double the figure from just a week ago.

Political unrest in Ivory Coast has claimed at least 462 lives since mid-December 2010 with some 52 people losing their lives in Abidjan alone this week.

Violence erupted in the country following the November 28 presidential election and after incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to hand over power to his rival Alassane Ouattara.

Tensions escalated after they both claimed victory and appointed separate cabinets.

The international community has recognized Ouattara as the rightful winner of the election.

The UN has set up an international probe into the post-election violence in the Ivory Coast, agreeing to dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to the country.

This comes as France and Nigeria on Friday introduced a UN resolution imposing new sanctions on Gbagbo and his allies.

French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud told reporters that the draft would be discussed next week.

The draft urges an end to the violence against the civilians. It would also impose an international travel ban and freeze the assets of Gbagbo and other close allies.

The draft also seeks to refer the situation in Ivory Coast to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

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