The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire will on Friday start collecting small arms handed in voluntarily by militiamen in the Yopougon suburb of the West African country’s commercial capital, Abidjan, it was announced today.
The exercise will be carried out by the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Division of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), in partnership with the National Commission of Light Weapons, the National Programme for Reinsertion and Community Rehabilitation and the country’s armed forces, UN spokesperson Hamadoun Touré told a news conference in Abidjan.
Sophie Da Camara, the Director of the DDR Division, stressed the need to make the country in general, and Yopougon in particular, peaceful and secure, and urged those with arms in the community to hand them in.
Similar operations will be carried out throughout the country, Ms. Camara said, adding that a large amount of arms and ammunitions had already been collected in Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital, after the violent post-electoral crisis finally came to an end in April.
“As and when the need arises, we are going to continue to collect weapons and also register the militiamen in an effort to accompany the ex-combatants in their return to normal life,” she said.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire and head of UNOCI, Y. J. Choi, is expected in New York on Monday to brief the Security Council on the latest developments in the country.
He will “outline the remaining challenges which need to be overcome in order to improve the security situation and re-establish law and order,” Mr. Touré said, adding that Mr. Choi will take the opportunity to reiterate UNOCI’s readiness to help the Ivorian Government in its efforts to promote social cohesion and reconciliation and prepare for legislative elections.
On the human rights situation, Mr. Touré said that UNOCI was concerned about crimes being committed by elements of the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), an armed group that fought on the side of President Alassane Ouattara during the post-election crisis.
“During last week, at least 25 cases of torture and ill-treatment were reported in Daloa, Gabia Kinkeninda and Zoukougbeu. At least four people were threatened with death by these same elements,” said Mr. Touré.
Côte d’Ivoire’s political crisis ended when former president Laurent Gbagbo finally surrendered in mid-April, ending months of violence in the wake of his refusal to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off election to Mr. Ouattara, who was sworn in as president in May.