Only peace will stop human rights violations in Côte d'Ivoire, UN report says

Only peace will stop human rights violations in Côte d'Ivoire, UN report says

Côte d'Ivoire urgently needs peace if it is to avoid the slide into an abyss of further human rights atrocities and all-out war, according to the report of a United Nations mission dispatched to the country late last month.

Côte d'Ivoire urgently needs peace if it is to avoid the slide into an abyss of further human rights atrocities and all-out war, according to the report of a United Nations mission dispatched to the country late last month.

"The Ivoirian crisis is characterized by the scale of acts of hatred and xenophobia," says the report, which covers the mission undertaken by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan from 23 to 29 December. It calls on the Government and rebel leaders to prevent excesses and bring to justice those responsible for them, as well as to protect people at risk.

The report notes that, according to estimates the mission received during its visit, between 1,000 and 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far – many by summary execution. Many politicians and businessmen have been murdered in Abidjan in killings, which, according to testimony, “are organized by death squads and private militias.”

The report also contains allegations about the existence of mass graves, cases of detentions and disappearances on all sides, and speaks of torture and sexual violence, including gang rape, which both the Government and the rebels accused the other side of perpetrating.

In view of the scale of human rights violations, the report suggests to the Security Council that strategies to safeguard human rights and protect civilians should be included in the agenda of the negotiation process and in any peace plan. The report stresses that even in the search for peace in the midst of conflict, fundamental standards of human rights and humanitarian law must be upheld.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Côte d'Ivoire, Carolyn McAskie, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis, left Abidjan for Ghana today. In addition to Ghana, she is scheduled to visit Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia and Mali to assess the humanitarian impact of the crisis on those countries.

In other news, after violent protests in Abidjan and the general climate of insecurity forced the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to suspend all its operations in the country yesterday, the agency has announced that it has partially resumed repatriation activities, sending 100 Liberian refugees home from the south-western part of Côte d'Ivoire.