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United States Concerned About Violence in Côte d'Ivoire

24 January 2006

Anti-U.N. protesters cause suspension of humanitarian operations

The United States expressed concern January 24 about the effect of recent violence in Cote d'Ivoire on the peace process under way in the country and on the provision of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations.

"We particularly deplore last week's violent protests in Abidjan against United Nations Operations in Côte d'Ivoire [UNOCI], and the attacks on humanitarian operations in the west," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a written statement.  U.N. operations have been put at risk, humanitarian goods have been lost and humanitarian assistance has been suspended temporarily, McCormack said.

According to news reports, anti-U.N. protesters loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo went on the rampage a week earlier in the western town of Guiglo, burning the offices of 10 U.N. agencies and other aid groups and driving out U.N. personnel and other aid workers.  About 14,000 refugees and displaced persons live in camps near the town.

At the same time, four days of rioting brought the country's economic capital, Abidjan, to a standstill.  The disruptions targeted U.N.-sponsored peace attempts in the country, which has been split between the rebel-held North and the government-controlled South for more than three years.

Affairs in the once stable and prosperous West African nation began to deteriorate following the death in 1993 of the country's first president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny.  Difficulties with the presidential election, a military coup, a military insurrection and continuing hostilities resulted in sharp divisions within the country.  Efforts toward peace have been continuing with the help of the African Union and the United Nations.

Following is the text of the State Department statement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
January 24, 2006

STATEMENT BY SEAN MCCORMACK, SPOKESMAN

Violence in Côte d'Ivoire

Noting the return to relative calm in Côte d'Ivoire, the United States remains concerned about the impact of the recent violence on the peace process and the provision of humanitarian assistance.  We particularly deplore last week's violent protests in Abidjan against United Nations Operations in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), and the attacks on humanitarian operations in the west.  These attacks resulted in significant risk to UNOCI operations, the substantial loss of humanitarian matériel and the temporary suspension of essential assistance to vulnerable populations.  We call on all parties to work with UNOCI to safeguard the security of refugees, humanitarian workers and civilians, and to ensure that similar incidents do not recur.

The United States supports the efforts of Prime Minister Konan Banny and his Government in facilitating the Ivoirian peace process.  We thank Nigerian President Obasanjo for support as Chairman of the African Union.  Working with the international community, Côte d'Ivoire must disarm and reintegrate former combatants and organize free, fair, and transparent elections before October 31, 2006, in accordance with the efforts of the African Union and UN Security Council Resolution 1633.  We urge all Ivoirian parties to support these efforts.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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