Côte d'Ivoire

Daily Brief on Côte d'Ivoire for Wednesday 13 Jun 2007

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Highlights

- More than 10,000 students attend UNOCI's school caravan in Abobo

- Young Patriots seek UNOCI's help in peace sensitization

- Tension high in Guiglo following students' demonstration

- UNPOL asked to leave village in Gagnoa area

- HRO Daloa carries out investigation after prison deaths

Outreach activities

More than 10,000 students today attended the ninth leg of UNOCI's School Caravan held at the Lycée Moderne of Abobo - the largest school in Cote d'Ivoire. Military and civilian staff from the Mission had a useful exchange with pupils and teachers in an area which had been a no-go area for them during the past three years. The discussion touched on several issues including UNOCI's mandate, its role in the peace process after the signing of the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement on 4th March 2007 and its future in Cote d'Ivoire. The event was briefly interrupted by members of the students' group FESCI who insisted on taking the floor. However the situation was quickly brought under control by UNOCI peacekeepers and the Management of the school, after which the FESCI members apologized and expressed their will to join the road to peace.

UNOCI's Chief Legal Officer, Mrs Therese De Saint Phalle, today delivered scores of legal text books to the University of Bouaké as part of the formal opening ceremony of the University for the academic year 2006-2007. Mrs De Saint Phalle represented the OIC of UNOCI, Mr. Abou Moussa at the ceremony. More than 600 students cheered as the books were donated. This was the second time in the last five months that UNOCI has facilitated a donation of books to the University of Bouaké. The books were given to the University of Bouaké, through UNOCI, by the Paris-based publishing house Nexus-Lexus.

Young Patriots

Young Patriots from COJEP in Blolequin yesterday told BENINBATT that UNOCI vehicles are now free to move in and out of the town. They also asked the peacekeepers for the Mission's support for a peaceful rally they are planning to hold in the next few days to sensitize the different communities on peaceful co-existence. A group of six local COJEP leaders told BENINBAT that the idea behind the event is to ease tension and promote understanding between autochtones, other ethnic groups and foreigners.

Security

Tension is still high in the schools in Guiglo even after the end of the huge demonstrations staged during the past few days by the city's students. There is fear among the local population that disturbances may re-occur, because it appears that authorities did not satisfy the students' grievances.

The students' unrest and the discontent among members of former militias were two of the main topics discussed during a security management meeting held yesterday in Guiglo. UNOCI military and civilian components, as well as UN agencies appealed to the Ivoirian authorities to take immediate action to stop the growing unrest among the students and clarify the financial problems faced by their teachers.

The security management meeting held in San Pedro yesterday focused on the village of Mossadougou, where, during the last few days, the population has been demonstrating in protest against the arrest of 11 people by the environment protection police. According to UN security, the detainees are accused of illegal logging in the Bas-Sassandra region. The demonstrators have threatened to take further action if those who have been arrested are not freed within 72 hours.

A UNOCI patrol sent to Boué to investigate a series of robberies reported by the UNPOL in Man (see Daily Sitrep dated 10 June 07), met the concerned individuals and tried to verify the allegations with different people living in the village. The villagers confirmed that a first robbery had occurred, but denied that there had been other robberies and that they had been intimidated as a result of these alleged incidents.

A UNPOL team sent yesterday to Tchedjelet (Gagnoa) though warmly welcomed by the village chief was told that he was not ready to talk to them. He then asked them to leave the village. Efforts to explain UNOCI's role in the country proved fruitless, as none of the locals was ready to listen.

Human Rights

On 8 June, the Regional Human Rights Office in Daloa conducted a field mission to Bouaflé to assess the detention conditions in the civilian prison. The Office found these conditions worrisome as 4 detainees had died between 1 January and 8 June 2007 as a result of poor health. 378 detainees found at the prison included 351 men, 24 women and 3 boys arrested for robbery and rape.

On 12 June, the Yamoussoukro Regional Human Rights Office reported that a girl aged 11 was found dead after having been mutilated and sexually assaulted on 11 June. The father of the victim indicated to the Office that this might be the result of a ritual crime. The Office is following the case in collaboration with the Yamoussoukro Gendarmerie that opened a criminal investigation.

On 12 June, the Regional Human Rights Office in Odiénné, the UNOCI Child Protection Unit and the NGO African Union Club met with the Director of Odienné Regional Hospital to discuss the discriminations people affected and/or living with HIV/AIDS are facing. The director stated that out of 400 people who had tested HIV-positive, only 223 are receiving treatment while 177 are on the waiting list. He expressed concern about the many children who have been infected by their mother during pregnancy. Furthermore, 600 children in the hospital have been registered as HIV/AIDS orphans.