A senior United Nations official has obtained assurances from the rebels in Côte d'Ivoire that there will be no repetition of the kind of incident that forced the world body's emergency feeding agency to suspend flights last week after one of its planes was met with shots fired in the air, threats and hostile slogans.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Principal Deputy Special Representative in the West African country, Alan Doss, met with senior representatives of the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles in Bouaké in the rebel-held north where he stressed the need for full respect by all parties of Security Council resolution establishing the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI).
The rebel representatives assured Mr. Doss of free and unimpeded access for UN peacekeepers, military observers and UN and other humanitarian agencies' personnel.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) suspended its flights after the incident last Thursday in Man, in the west of the country, warning that such acts risked compromising its humanitarian mission at the expense of the local population.
UNOCI was set up in April to help implement peace accords between the Government and rebels signed in January 2003. The latest crisis began on 4 November when Government forces bombed rebel positions in the in the UN-patrolled Zone of Confidence (ZOC) separating the combatants.
Two days later Government forces bombed French peacekeepers there, killing nine, and French troops destroyed the Government's air force in retaliation, leading to widespread rioting, looting and harassment of foreigners. Thousands of Ivorian refugees and expatriates, mainly French, fled the country.