Côte d'Ivoire + 1 more

Ivory Coast assessment mission to focus on peacekeeping

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Up to one million people have been displaced by the conflict in the Ivory Coast that began with an attempted coup on September 19, 2002. The government of the Ivory Coast and the rebel forces, who represent disenfranchised communities in the west and north of the country, signed a peace agreement in France the last week in January, but there is concern that it may not hold. Not only have hundreds of thousands of Ivoirians been displaced by the conflict, but also it has affected the lives of thousands of Liberian refugees and nationals from neighboring countries who had found a safe haven and economic well being in this once peaceful and thriving country. The conflict is complicated by a war in neighboring Liberia - people are fleeing in many directions and the resources of agencies operating in West Africa are being stretched.
French military units have been deployed in the Ivory Coast to protect French nationals and to attempt to establish a ceasefire between the belligerents. Refugees International has a strong interest in effective peacekeeping operations. Given the fact that the cause of most of the world's 32 million refugees and displaced persons is armed conflict, RI has been studying and advocating for more effective peacekeeping operations that can prevent or shorten armed conflicts. In October 2002, RI published its first report on the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Our second report on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) will soon be published. On this mission to the Ivory Coast beginning February 27, 2003, RI Director of Special Projects Cliff Bernath will analyze the role and goals of the French military units that have been deployed to the area.

Cliff will join RI Advocates Sayre Nyce and Shanon Meehan who departed for West Africa on February 4th. Their assessment mission is identifying the humanitarian assistance and protection needs of displaced people, focusing on Ivoirian refugees, Liberian refugees, and other nationals displaced by the conflict. The team has also traveled to Guinea and Liberia to investigate the needs of returnees, as well as Liberians displaced by the fighting between government and rebel forces in Liberia.