Rising violence jeopardizing efforts to resolve Ivorian political crisis – UN

UN Blue Helmets on patrol in Côte d’Ivoire

16 March 2011 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire today strongly condemned the increasing violence that is affecting many parts of the country, calling for an immediate end to the strife that is hampering efforts to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

The mission, known as UNOCI, reported that 18 people, including three women and a baby, were wounded last night by a grenade thrown by unidentified individuals in the southern town of Attecoubé in Abidjan district.

“UNOCI considers it imperative to put an end, immediately, to this escalation of violence that jeopardizes peace, social cohesion and national reconciliation,” the mission said in a news release.

It also reiterated its appeal to all parties to exercise restraint and cease the violence, which is making it more difficult to resolve the current political impasse resulting from incumbent Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down following the UN-certified victory of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in November’s presidential run-off election.

The polls were meant to reunify the country after it was split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.

Instead the political stand-off and ensuing violence have led to hundreds of deaths and the displacement of some 370,000 people within Côte d’Ivoire, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). An additional 70,000 Ivorians have fled to neighbouring Liberia seeking refuge.

UNHCR warned yesterday that fighting between Gbagbo loyalists and supporters of Mr. Ouattara continue to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those displaced by the violence.

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