Millions flee amid fears of all-out war in Ivory Coast

2011-03-25 14:41

Fears that post-election unrest in Ivory Coast will explode into all-out war have spurred up to 1 million people to flee their homes in the capital Abidjan, the UN refugee agency said today.

President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to cede office despite his rival Alassane Ouattara being recognised by the international community as the rightful winner of November’s presidential elections.

“The massive displacement in Abidjan and elsewhere is being fuelled by fears of all-out war,” Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Geneva.

The closure of banks and businesses is causing economic chaos in the already impoverished West African country, she said.

Unemployment is rising, as are food prices, while the capital’s bus terminals are packed with people trying to flee to safer areas in the north, east and south.

Meanwhile, the situation in the west of the country is unclear, with reports that many thousands of civilians there are also fleeing their homes.

Fleming said previous estimates had put the number of displaced in the whole country at 500 000, indicating a sharp rise in recent days.

The global body is concerned that the fighting could spread to neighbouring Liberia, which itself is recovering from years of conflict.

Fleming said there are indications that Liberian mercenaries are arriving in Ivory Coast through the countries’ porous 700km border.

The UN’s human rights office said at least 462 people have been killed in fighting since December, with at least 52 killed in the past week.

The Geneva-based office has also received unconfirmed reports of 200 foreigners being killed in the west of the country, said spokesperson Rupert Colville.

Drive-by shootings of civilians by Gbagbo and Ouattara supporters are on the rise, Colville said. He added that more than 5 000 young people recently followed a call by Gbagbo to enlist in the army.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.