Côte d'Ivoire: UN peacekeepers begin clearing explosives after election conflict

UNOCI peacekeepers on patrol

22 April 2011 – The United Nations peacekeeping force in Côte d'Ivoire has begun clearing explosive devices that were left over by combatants during the bloody post-election violence that engulfed the West-African country following the runoff presidential poll last November.

Clearance teams fanned out across the country beginning yesterday to collect ammunition, bombs and landmines scattered during the fighting, the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) said in a press statement.

The refusal by former president Laurent Gbagbo to stand down after he lost the UN-certified run-off poll in November plunged the West African country into four months of violence, with his troops pitted against forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized President. Mr. Gbagbo surrendered last week and was taken into custody.

UNOCI has provided the public with the telephone numbers to call to inform the mission of the presence of suspicious devices anywhere in the country.

Pending the arrival of specialized teams members of the public have been advised not to touch unknown objects and prohibit children from doing so. People should mark the location of any suspicious devices and then call UNOCI, according to the statement.

“UNOCI in accordance with its mandate will remain with the Ivorian people to support them and help restore normal life as quickly as possible,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian soldier serving with UNOCI has died in an accident that happened at Bouaké airport on Tuesday.

Sulin Viacheslav, 37, arrived in Côte d'Ivoire last month on secondment to UNOCI from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), where he had served since December last year.

“UNOCI extends its sincere condolences to the Ukrainian Government and the bereaved family,” the mission said in a statement.

His death brings to 54 the number of UNOCI military personnel who have died since the deployment of the mission in April 2004.

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