Côte d'Ivoire

Daily brief on Côte d'Ivoire for Friday 13 Apr 2007

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Highlights:

- IWG holds its 14th ministerial-level meeting;

- Ceremony marking the lifting of the ZOC to be held in Tiebissou;

- ONUCI conducts information forum in Tiebissou;

- Arms embargo inspections in Anyama, Bondoukou and Kongolila;

Tension between self-defence committee and foreigners in Brobo Political:

The 14th ministerial-level meeting of the International Working Group (IWG) was held on Friday at the headquarters of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI). Addressing the opening session, ONUCI o.i.c. and IWG co-chairman Abou Moussa stated that the new political context in Côte d'Ivoire obliged the international community, including ONUCI, to change its modus operandi and adopt new strategies and a new approach to restoring stability in the country. The Foreign Minister of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, who is also co-chair of the IWG, said the Working Group had to determine the best way to assist in the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement.

Zone of confidence

The main ceremony marking the dismantling of the zone of confidence will be held on Monday at Tiebissou, a locality north of Yamoussoukro and just outside of the zone of confidence. Meanwhile, at the weekly meeting of the UN system at Sector Headquarters in Bouaké , WHO raised concerns about the security of humanitarian workers after the lifting of the zone of confidence. The WHO representative wanted to know to whom they should convey their security concerns.

Promotion of the peace process:

The UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI) today conducted an information forum in Tiebissou, which hosts many people displaced by the Ivorian conflict. About 400 persons attended the meeting. Speaking on behalf of ONUCI Officer-in-Charge Abou Moussa, ONUCI Spokesman Hamadoun Touré stated that even after the elimination of the zone of confidence, the international community will continue to help Côte d'Ivoire as needed and whenever the Ivorian authorities request its assistance. Participants expressed appreciation at ONUCI's efforts to help restore peace in Côte d'Ivoire and said they were happy to see that things were moving ahead. However, they complained that they did not have drinking water and asked ONUCI to implement quick impact projects in health and education in their area. ONUCI's information forums, begun in late 2005, provide the mission with an opportunity to explain its mandate and activities to the population. At the same time, they enable the population to express their concerns.

Arms embargo inspections

Arms embargo inspections were carried out on Thursday 12 April at the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the National Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FANCI) at Anyama, just north of Abidjan, at the FANCI company in the northeastern town of Bondoukou, and at an FAFN unit in the northern locality of Kongolila.

Security

A Morbatt patrol was sent on Thursday from Bouaké to Brobo in order to reinforce the ONUCI forces in the area, following reports that members of a local self-defence committee had attacked the families of foreigners after two locals were injured in a brawl with West African nationals (four Nigerians, two Burkinabé and a Malian).

On 12 April, two residents of the western village of Diourouzon said they had been robbed of CFA13,000 by six unidentified armed robbers one km east of the village. A PAKBATT patrol that went to the site found two abandoned bicycles and the dead body of a man reported to be the local imam. As news of the killing spread, a large crowd gathered around the corpse vowing to take revenge. To avert any clashes, the patrol commander contacted a Muslim chief, Mr. Meddy, asking him to use his influence to defuse the situation. The crowd dispersed quietly.

Human Rights

On 11 April, the Regional Human Rights Office in Duékoué, the International Rescue Committee and a representative of the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs discussed the plight of women and girls subjected to exactions and acts of violence, including rape, by elements of the Defense and Security Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FDS-CI) in the western region of Moyen Cavally. The two partners indicated to the Office that they had been following up with the local authorities five cases of female minors raped by FDS-CI elements.

On 11 April, the Human Rights Office in Daloa raised with the local commander of the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) in Vavoua the case of a 60-year-old woman who was raped on 21 March by two FDS-FN elements. Informed of the incident, the chief of the FAFN in Beoumi took the victim to a dispensary for medical treatment. No action has been taken against the two men by the civilian or military leadership of the Forces Nouvelles.

On 11 April, the Regional Human Rights Office in Daloa conducted a field investigation in Vavoua to assess detention conditions at the local police headquarters. The Office found that no one was in detention at the moment of the visit because the commissioner had ordered all detainees to be relocated prior to the arrival of human rights officers at the detention centre

On 11 April, the Regional Human Rights Office in Korhogo conducted a two-day human rights training for 30 participants, including FAFN elements, civil society organizations and local media representatives. The training focused on national, regional and international human rights mechanisms, with special emphasis on those ratified by the Government of Côte d'Ivoire.