Côte d'Ivoire

Daily briefing on Côte d'Ivoire for Monday 19 Mar 2007

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- Road Bandits fire on BENINBATT patrol

- GHANBATT investigates murder in Sepidouo village

- UNOCI elements continue to address farmers/herdsmen disputes

- UNOCI peacekeepers provide water for communities

- Electoral Unit Officers visit the north of Cote d'Ivoire

Security

A BENINBATT patrol going to Nizaon near Guiglo was yesterday fired on by five masked individuals armed with AK47s, a home-made pistol, a knife and sticks. The incident took place about 1.5km south of Peace Town, the Liberian refugee camp. BENINBATT soldiers fired back but no one was injured. The attackers ran away but one suspect , who was armed with a knife, was arrested by the patrol. The patrol also found in the area a bag with an AK47 - number 6885 (1961) -, a torchlight and some clothes. Zemeyen was taken into custody - along with the articles - by Guiglo police. It was later learnt that the attackers were bandits who had just stolen two million CFA.The situation in the area was reportedly calm today.

On the night of 18 March 2007, Jordanian peacekeepers in Abidjan monitored three gunmen carrying AK- 47s on the main street near their camp. They were on the other side of the main street in front of the control tower, from which sentries closely monitored them at distance of 30 meters. After 20 minutes the gunmen withdrew left the area on foot, without engaging in any hostile act towards UNOCI.

A GHANBATT and UNPOL patrol from Bouna, which yesterday went to Sepidouo village in the Zone of Confidence, confirmed that a herdsman, aged about 26, had been murdered at a riverbank near the village. According to reports, at about 1400hrs on 16 March 2007, the deceased was grazing his animals in the area with his 15-year-old brother - when according to the brother, two armed men suspected appeared and demanded the victim's water bottle and wristwatch at gunpoint. The victim gave them the water bottle but told them he did not have a watch. The gunmen then shot him dead with a locally made gun.

UNOCI Military, police and human rights officers in and around Bouaké continue to address disputes between farmers and pastoralists in villages around Anko Prikro. The disputes stem from claims from farmers that cattle have been eating their yam and cassava crops. The Deputy Sector Commander has said that he believed the problem has been exacerbated by the late arrival of rains this year. Some 14 villages around the village of Anko Prikro this weekend created an association of farmers to address the problem. It was reported last week that some 2000 heads of cattle are grazing in this zone. At the end of last week a farmer killed a cow and the FDS-FN had to intervene and forced him to pay 350,000 CFA (us $ 700.00) for the dead animal. In some cases, farmers in Anko Prikro have been known to take cattle hostage and when the herdsman or the owner of the cattle goes to the village, the farmers demand compensation for their destroyed crops. UNOCI's Human Rights section in Bouaké, UNPOL, military and military observers are to hold a coordination meeting on how best to address the tension and how best to help local authorities to defuse the tension.

Humanitarian

UNOCI peacekeepers have been providing drinking water for communities in Diendikro in Sector East and Logouale in Sector West following a water crisis in these areas due to dry weather.

Electoral

The Electoral Unit in Korhogo is organizing a four-day mission to the north of the country with UN Police and Military observers in order to meet the political party representatives and to gather preliminary information on where polling stations will be established for forthcoming elections.

The Regional Electoral Office covering the Department of Bandama Valley today held a working meeting with members of the Independent Electoral Commissions in Beoumi, Dabakala, Sakassou, Bouake and Katiola

Human Rights

The Human Rights Office in Korhogo carried out a three-day mission to Tengrela, Débété and Kanakono in the far north of Cote d'Ivoire last week. The visit included both casework and briefings on the Mission's human rights work to various members of the populations in these towns. Villagers in Débété stated that they had seen Military Observers in the past, but had not had a visit from other sections of the Mission. The Mayor of Tengrela stated that the population of more than 70,000 people living in the sub-prefecture of the Department of Les Savanes continues to feel cut off from the rest of the country. Not only have they never had RTI, but they also do not have access to ONUCI FM or other information media.

The Regional Human Rights Office in Duékoué held a working session with the Chief of the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Guiglo to discuss the alleged presence in the village of Kouhan Houlé in the Sous-Préfecture of Danané of Guinean refugees who fled into Côte d'Ivoire following the recent troubles in Conakry. A total of around 450 persons, among whom 234 children, are seeking shelter in this part of Côte d'Ivoire.

On 16 March, the monitoring group created to follow up the implementation of the recommendations on sexual abuses of the workshop that was organized on this subject by the Abidjan Regional Office met in the City Hall of Port-Bouët (Abidjan district) to assess the current situation and ongoing activities. The group recorded progress on the electrification of the zone and the building of a community water fountain as well as the availability of funds for the population of Viridi III to initiate micro projects. The Secretary-General of the City Hall stated that the workshop that the Human Rights Division of the UNOCI organized last December was of great help in sensitizing the local authorities as well as government officials on the trauma that the populations of some areas in Abidjan were experiencing. It has to be highlighted that poverty is one of the root causes of human rights violations in this area.

On 16 March, the Human Rights Office in Odienné together with the Secretary General of the Direction Régionale de l'Education (DREN) of Odienné inaugurated the Human Rights Club of the Collège Moderne and the human rights protection cell in the town of Madinani. During the ceremony, the Secretary-General reiterated the importance of the Club and the protection cell to guarantee the fundamental rights of the child in this region. The protection cell will deal with violations against child rights, the settlement of conflicts between students and parents, the education of young girls and violence against women.