Friday, March 25, 2011

A Week from Hell

The situation in Cote d'ivoire at the end of this week is dire.

Deteriorating conditions with Abidjan slowly becoming a ghost town in the midst of heavy artillery firing, automatic weapon gunfire and shelling with people fleeing for their lives.

The 'official' figures of this increasing terror according to Ouattara's RHDP:
Dead (832)
Injured (1808)
Disappeared (100)
Arrested (876) but I believe these figures are lower than the reality.  52 people have died in just over a week, 7 of those being women and 5 children.

What does it take to get the international community to take action to end this conflict? 
Where are ECOWAS, AU, UN, EU & other western nations?
Where is Cote d'Ivoire's No Fly Zone?

For anyone interested, the UN mission UNOCI figures:

Refugees are fleeing east, many trying to find shelter in towns and villages in the Sud-Comoe & N'zi-Comoe regions, those that have cash continue onto Ghana, Togo & Benin.  Towns & villages are brimming with refugees, some lacking shelter to house the thousands leaving the economic capital of Abidjan.  Others are heading north to Bouake and further afield.  At the moment it seems that the UN agencies such as WFP and UNHCR have 'forgotten' this exodus, concentrating on the 100,000+ that have fled westwards to Liberia.  Where I stayed in December & January have refugees coming in taxiloads and on foot, daily ... yesterday the count was at 750+ in a town of 18,000; they told me that they need assistance ... certainly camps will need to be built & health should be high on the priority list.  I'm ready to return but need international aid to get supplies there.

The scenes from Aboisso's 'gare routier' one I know extremely well, are incredible, always the crossroads to Ghana or towns in the region it now has thousands passing through or looking for somewhere to stay, others sleeping in the open  having paid well over the usual odds to just get that far.

A friend in Kinshasa asked me about the genocide posting, how could it be genocide? 

Immigrants who once supported this economy from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Guinea have been targeted.  Victims of horrific violence, from being beaten with bricks to 'necklacing' having a tyre placed over them and then being set alight.  Certain districts of Abidjan and towns in the west are being targeted for the 'terrorists' as the immigrants are now being labelled.  Many of those areas have Ivoirians from the north.  However this is not a religious war, I know many Ouattara supporters, who are Christian as well as Muslim, I also know of Muslims who are pro-Gbagbo ... a reader of an article 'Joelle' makes the same comment:  BBC's Mark Doyle who reported from Rwanda during the early days of the genocide there was shocked by the scenes & what he saw, tweeting that this reminded him of Rwanda ... #doylebytes on twitter

Monday saw the recruitment of youngsters by Ble Goude, Gbagbo's 'Youth Minister' with the promise of cash in their pockets, they filed into a stadium to chant “We will kill them now” and “The rebels will die”, with a reply of “Do you want a Kalashnikov?”- These youngsters are being offered the chance of an early death, it seems to be a mass suicide is going to take place with little training or knowledge of what they are undertaking.

It seems that international support for Gbagbo is waining, Angola's Dos Santos has seemingly refused to give more cash to keep the coffers full, to pay his military, civil servants and other supporters.  I heard that the youngsters who were joining his forces on Monday were being asked for 25,000CFA to enrol, more funds to try to meet his end of month payments to keep the support growing.

I remember in September/October buying 'Jeune Afrique' a French African magazine similar to the 'Economist' .. the cover was a photo of Gbagbo with the headlines 'J'y suis, J'y reste'.  I was on skype to my journalist friend 'ourmaninafrica' who was on a story in Korhogo in the north of Cote d'Ivoire at the time.  I asked him if he had seen this edition, I had read the several pages it extended to and felt that if Gbagbo didn't win (having not held elections for 5 years) then the future would be difficult and possibly return to further violence.  At that stage I was hoping he would win, but fairly & squarely and not going to this level of violence to make his point.

In my car I have a CD I bought in Aboisso just prior to leaving in January 'Y'a Rien en Face' a pro-Gbagbo mix of zouglou.  It often brings me near to tears, hearing the lyrics and remembering the fervent love of some of the tracks by many Ivoirians.  The lyrics themselves spell it all out, even before the elections took place that this would be the future if Gbagbo wasn't in power. 

At the end of this week there's NO:

Radio RFI BBC,
TV France24 & TV5
SMS/Text messages
The Press are being attacked
Electricity in the north of the country

Yako mes amis ...

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