8 June 2012 The United Nations Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and the Security Council have condemned “in the strongest possible terms” an attack in Côte d'Ivoire in which seven peacekeepers were killed.
Hailing from Niger, the peacekeepers were serving with the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), and on patrol in the proximity of Para village, near the border town of Tai in the country's south-west on Friday, when they were attacked by a group of unidentified armed elements. There have been reports that Ivorians were also killed.
“I call on the Government of Côte d'Ivoire to do its utmost to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable for this deadly attack,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a media encounter at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.
“My heart goes out to the families at this difficult time, and I express my deepest sympathy to the Government of Niger for this tragedy,” he added.
Earlier Friday, the head of UNOCI, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bert Koenders, strongly condemned the attack, which took place in an area where the peacekeeping mission recently strengthened its presence due to threats of attacks against the civilian population.
“UNOCI will take all the required measures following this severe violation of international law,” UNOCI said in a statement.
In his remarks, Secretary-General Ban noted that the full details of the attack were not yet available, but that he understood that other peacekeepers are still in danger.
“Even tonight, after the attack, more than 40 peacekeepers remain with the villagers in this remote region to protect them from this armed group,” Mr. Ban said. “My thoughts are with these brave peacekeepers and the community they are protecting.”
In a later statement, his spokesperson said that the Secretary-General also remains seriously concerned about the continued instability in the border areas between Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia since the Ivorian post-elections crisis, which has resulted in the death of a number of individuals in that region.
In a statement issued on Friday, the spokesperson for the General Assembly President, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said he strongly condemned the attack, and said those responsible must be brought to justice and made to face the full weight of the law.
“President Al-Nasser stresses that the safety and security of UN peacekeepers and other UN personnel in Cote d'Ivoire must be respected and guaranteed in accordance with international law and under all circumstances,” the spokesperson added.
The Security Council also issued a statement on Friday, strongly condemning the attack.
The Council members called on the Government of Côte d'Ivoire to work with all relevant parties to identify and bring the perpetrators to justice; and, expressed their condolences to the families of the peacekeepers killed in the attack, as well as to the Government of Niger.
“The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern at the prevailing insecurity in western Côte d'Ivoire and the border area, and continued cross-border movements of armed elements, including militias and mercenaries,” the statement added.
UNOCI was established in 2004 by the Security Council to facilitate the peace process in the country, which was split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.
The mission, whose current mandate runs until 31 July, is currently tasked with assisting the country tackle the many challenges it faces in the wake of the violence that followed presidential elections in late 2010 and the electoral crisis that finally ended in April 2011. These include the restoration of law and order, national reconciliation, the holding of legislative elections, and economic recovery.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue