Concerned by recent developments in Côte d'Ivoire, the UN Security Coordinator's Office (UNSECOORD) made the call to pull out UN staff today, noting the sporadic violent demonstrations, and xenophobic radio broadcasts, as well as ethnic clashes, which have rocked the country for weeks now.
There are currently some 120 international UN staff in Côte d'Ivoire, "and we expect a maximum of 80 staff to remain in the country," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press, adding that specific security clearances will be needed for any other staff to go into the country.
Mr. Eckhard recalled that earlier in the week, a senior UN official, at the request of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, briefed the Security Council privately on Côte d'Ivoire. "In that briefing, he highlighted the Secretary-General's continuing and strong concern of the danger of a further deterioration of the situation, building on the existing ethnic, communal and religious tensions in that country," the spokesman said.
Immediately following that briefing, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on all Ivoirian political forces to fully implement, without delay, the Linas-Morcoussis Peace Agreement, signed and adopted last month in France.
The French-brokered accord, which calls upon the government, rebels and political opposition to share power in a transitional government until elections in 2005, has sparked a series of violent protests and demonstrations that have rocked Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire's main city. Those protests and the general climate of insecurity subsequently forced the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) to suspend all its operations in the country for three days in late January.