Showing posts with label United Nations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United Nations. Show all posts

Thursday, March 31, 2011

West African Immigrants Massacred in Côte d'Ivoire

Fury as women shot in Ivory Coast

Ivorian forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo kill at least seven women protesting in support of presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara.

© 2011 Reuters

West African immigrants fleeing Côte d'Ivoire

31 Mar 2011 13:39 Africa/Lagos

Côte d'Ivoire / West African Immigrants Massacred / UN Imposes Strong Measures on Gbagbo; Greater Civilian Protection Needed

DAKAR, March 31, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Ivorian militias and Liberian mercenaries loyal to Laurent Gbagbo killed at least 37 West African immigrants in a village near the border with Liberia on March 22, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. In response to the intensifying abuses and descent into civil war, the United Nations Security Council on March 30 imposed strong measures on Gbagbo, the incumbent president, who has refused to step down and cede power to his rival, Alassane Ouattara.

Witnesses in Côte d'Ivoire told Human Rights Watch that armed men, some in uniform and others in civilian clothes, massacred the villagers, presumed to be Ouattara supporters, possibly in retaliation for the capture of nearby areas by pro-Ouattara forces. Several other witnesses described numerous incidents in which real or perceived Ouattara supporters were killed by pro-Gbagbo security forces and militiamen in Abidjan. Ouattara's troops are spreading south and east, seizing several key towns, including the political capital, Yamoussoukro, and moving toward Abidjan, the commercial capital, in a very fluid situation.

“Côte d'Ivoire has reached the boiling point,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We are extremely concerned about the potential for further human rights atrocities, given the killings by both sides and the continued incitement to violence through the media by Gbagbo cronies.”

In a four-month organized campaign of human rights abuses, which probably rise to the level of crimes against humanity, Gbagbo's forces have killed, “disappeared,” and raped real and perceived supporters of Ouattara, Human Rights Watch has found. Armed men supporting Ouattara have also engaged in numerous extrajudicial executions of presumed pro-Gbagbo fighters and supporters.

According to UN estimates, approximately 500 people, the vast majority civilians, have lost their lives as a result of the violence. In March alone, forces aligned with Gbagbo killed at least 50 civilians by firing mortars into neighborhoods known to be Ouattara strongholds. Pro-Gbagbo forces have also beaten and hacked and burned to death numerous perceived Ouattara supporters at checkpoints set up by militias.

On March 25, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that between 700,000 and one million people have been displaced, largely from Abidjan. On March 29, UNHCR reported that 116,000 Ivorians have fled to eight West African countries: Liberia, Ghana, Togo, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Nigeria.

On March 30, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution that calls on Gbagbo to leave office and urges a political solution to the crisis. The resolution demands an end to violence against both civilians and the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI). It urges the UN operation to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

In addition, the Security Council resolution calls upon all parties to cooperate fully with an international commission of inquiry put in place in late March by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights violations committed in Côte d'Ivoire. Finally, the resolution adopts targeted sanctions against Gbagbo and four close associates, including his wife, Simone.

Human Rights Watch has urged all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and end the targeting of civilians and extrajudicial executions, and has called for UN peacekeepers to enhance civilian protection. The UN operation needs equipment, such as helicopters, as well as additional deployments of well-trained and equipped troops, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch has also stressed the importance of accountability for atrocities. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has repeatedly indicated that it will prosecute crimes committed in Côte d'Ivoire if the ICC's requirements for investigation – which relate to the gravity of the crimes and the inadequacy of national proceedings – are met. An investigation could be triggered by a referral of the situation by the UN Security Council or any state that is party to the court, or if the prosecutor decides to act on his own authority. While Côte d'Ivoire is not a party to the court, it accepted the court's jurisdiction through a declaration in 2003. The Security Council resolution references this declaration and states that the report of the commission of inquiry should be provided to the Security Council and “other relevant international bodies.”

“The massacre of West African immigrants, targeting of civilians in Abidjan, and massive displacement are deeply troubling and require an effective response,” Bekele said. “The UN should prepare for the worst and do all it can to protect everyone in Côte d'Ivoire who is at grave risk of horrific abuse.”

Massacre at Bedi-Gouzan

Human Rights Watch interviewed five witnesses to the March 22 massacre by pro-Gbagbo militias of at least 37 West African immigrants. The killings took place in the village of Bedi-Gouzan, 32 kilometers from the town of Guiglo in western Côte d'Ivoire, the day after combatants loyal to Ouattara had captured the nearby town of Blolequin. Bedi-Gouzan is home both to Ivorians and to an estimated 400 other West Africans, most of whom work on the cacao plantations in western Côte d'Ivoire. The witnesses said that many of the attackers, who spoke English, appeared to be Liberian, while the vast majority of victims were immigrants from Mali and Burkina Faso.

The witnesses said armed men fighting on behalf of Ouattara passed through Bedi-Gouzan as they advanced toward Guiglo at approximately 1 p.m. on the day of the attack. At about 3:30 p.m., witnesses said, at least four cars containing scores of pro-Gbagbo militiamen, some in military and some in civilian dress, and some speaking English while others spoke French, attacked the part of the village where the West African immigrants live. The witnesses said the militiamen killed the immigrants inside their homes and as they attempted to flee.

Human Rights Watch received a list of 27 Malian victims, but witnesses said that the Malians' relatives, who had fled into the surrounding forest and later briefly returned to the village, counted up to 40 dead. The witnesses said the attackers were armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and machetes. The witnesses believed their village had been attacked in reprisal for the military advance in the area by armed Ouattara supporters. As the attackers left, they pillaged and in some instances burned houses, looting any items of value, including motorcycles, money, televisions, mattresses, and clothing.

Several witnesses described a clear ethnic element to the targeting of victims. A 36-year-old witness said: “They came in accusing us of being rebels, and said, ‘If you're Dioula (from Northern Côte d'Ivoire), you can try to flee if you can, if you're Guere (natives of the area and largely supporters of Gbagbo), stay, we're not concerned with you. But if you're Malian or Mossi (Burkinabe, from Burkina Faso), we will kill you.' And then they started killing.”

An 18-year old Malian woman described hearing the attackers yelling, “Fire them, fire them all,” in English as they descended from their vehicles and started to kill. She said she and many other women and children were saved by a female Liberian rebel who intervened to stop them from being killed.

A few witnesses, including a 16-year-old interviewed by Human Rights Watch, were wounded by machetes during the attack: “They beat me, saying they were going to cut my throat; they slashed my arms with a machete saying we were rebels.”

He and others, like this 28-year-old Malian man, survived after paying money to the attackers:

At around 3 p.m. we heard the sound of heavy trucks coming, and ran into our houses. The men fired into the air, then started breaking down the doors…saying, “Fire, fire” and, “You're rebels, we'll kill all of you.” We heard shots, and screams. They were killing people. My family and I were cowering in our home; after breaking down my door they screamed that I should give them money, or they'd kill me. I gave them all I had - 84,000 CFA, and the keys to 3 motorcycles. I begged them not to kill me….I was terrified…but it saved my life. The commander said, “If it wasn't for this money, you'd be dead.” But not everyone had money… they killed a Burkinabe man in front of me…and later in a nearby house, I saw them kill 5 women… just a few meters away. They screamed, “Give us money!” The women pleaded saying they didn't have any….then they shot them…three inside the house, two just outside. They ordered four of us to carry the goods they looted to their truck…. As I walked through the village I saw at least 20 bodies and heard women and children wailing.… I saw them setting houses on fire and was told some villagers were burned inside.

A 34-year-old man from Burkina Faso described seeing 25 people killed, and noted what he believed to be a clear motive for the attack:

As they were killing people, they accused us of being rebels…They said other things in English that I couldn't understand. I saw 25 people killed with my own eyes. They killed women, with children, with men. They said they'd kill us all. They forced the people out and they killed them, just like they said. Most people who live there in the village are Burkinabe, Malians, and Senoufo (an ethnic group from Northern Côte d'Ivoire.) They killed people in front of the door to their house after pulling them out. One man opened his door, two guys dragged him out, and they fired their Kalashes [Kalashnikov rifles] into him. Also I saw an entire family killed. The man, two wives, the man's little brother, and their kids – two kids 9 and 5 years old. They killed them like it was nothing.

Ethnic Targeting in Abidjan

Since armed men loyal to Ouattara attempted to expand their control of areas in Abidjan into the Adjame and Williamsburg neighborhoods on March 16, dozens of civilians have been killed, either deliberately, or through excessive use of force. Immigrants from West Africa and active members of political parties allied to Ouattara were particularly targeted.

A 40 year-old man from Burkina Faso was one of nine West African immigrants detained by armed and uniformed men he believed to be policemen at a checkpoint in Adjame on March 29, and later taken into a police station and shot. Six of the men died, and the other three, including the witness, were wounded:

At 8:30 a.m., I was stopped by a checkpoint in Adjame on my way to work. They asked for my ID and after seeing my name, told me to get into a 4x4 nearby. I got in; there were 8 others there. The police vehicle took us to the 11th police commissariat. Just behind the commissariat there is a camp, which is where all happened. The police pushed us in and yelled at us, “Are you brothers of the rebellion?” I said no but obviously it wasn't a real question. Then they said, “If you are Burkinabe, go over there to the left. If you are Malian, go to the left.” So we all went left. Then they turned left and fired on us…6 of us died. I got shot in the arm and the kidneys and it looked bad so they left me for dead. The police left directly after. It was clear they were police because of their uniform; even the 4x4 was a police vehicle, marked as such, and the camp was the police camp at the commissariat. Two of the dead were Burkinabes; I learned the other six were Malian, including the two other survivors. I couldn't sleep last night because of the sutures and the memories. I will try tonight.

An Ivorian driver described the March 28 killing of three Malian butchers by militiamen wearing black T-shirts and red armbands, which are typically worn by neighborhood militiamen. The men shot the butchers as they were in the process of fetching a cow in the Williamsville neighborhood. A Senegalese man who was shot in the arm in the Adjame neighborhood by armed men in uniform on March 17 described how two of his Senegalese friends were shot dead in the same incident: “The armed men pointed their guns at them shot them…they didn't ask them any questions, they just shot them point blank.”

Another witness described the March 30 killing of a civilian who was stopped at a militia checkpoint in Adjame:

At noon, the militiamen stopped a pick-up truck and asked the driver and his apprentice for their ID papers. The driver was told to go ahead, but they pulled the apprentice out of the passenger seat and fired four times at him; his body is still in the street. This is their way of targeting foreigners…they judge your background from your ID papers. If you're an ECOWAS national or from the north, they take you out and – too often – shoot and kill. With some ten such checkpoints in Adjame now, these kinds of incidents and killings are becoming the norm.

Another witness described how he saw local militiamen conducting house-to-house searches and manning checkpoints on March 21 and 22 in Williamsville. He said he saw them kill three people, including two of his friends who were murdered in his house.

The violence in Adjame provoked the mass exodus of West African immigrants and Ivorians of northern descent from Abidjan or led them to take refuge in West African embassies.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Côte d'Ivoire, please visit:

Source: Human Right Watch (HRW)

Releases displayed in Africa/Lagos time
31 Mar 2011
13:39 Côte d'Ivoire / West African Immigrants Massacred / UN Imposes Strong Measures on Gbagbo; Greater Civilian Protection Needed
13:21 West Africa / Refugee crisis deepens as Ivorians continue to flee

Monday, March 14, 2011

The United Nations and Loots from African Rulers

The United Nations and Loots from African Rulers

What Kept me guessing is how the Western world, including Australia and some Asian countries keep on being the custodians of the ill-gotten loots of many African rulers (both current and past). We Africans will only know about the loots when there is political crisis such as the uprisings in North Africa, if one of them is overthrown or suddenly died.

Muammar Gaddafi speaking at the United Nations Assembly

Though we still see the loots with our very eyes; having oil wells, private universities, 5 star hotels, directors of many corporate organizations where they invested their loots. One other thing is that the Muslim heads of state of the troubled countries are more corrupt than ever; stealing in the name of Allah, deceiving their people or are they just kleptomaniacs?

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

How on earth can an Africa ruler be the richest man in the world by just being the President of his country and stashing away his country’s wealth worth $70 billion; and the United Nations is aware of this wickedness meant to his country and they condoned this loots and continue to dine and wine with him. If Mubarak is worth this, what about others?

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt

Now Gaddafi of Libya is another monster that must be stopped by all means. Since I came into this world all I know about Libyan history from my secondary to university education is Gaddafi and because of this crisis we now know the loot he has acquired over the years. What is left to do is change the name Libya to Gaddafi. There is this adage that says “he who protects and hides a thief is also a thief”. Since these countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and the Middle East in the United Nations and members of the Commonwealth are part of this conspiracy of keeping the loots, they should use their tongue to count their teeth. No wonder the late Afro Beat King Fela Anikulapo Kuti call it "Disunited Nations". Can United States of America be honest to African Countries by telling us who and who is having our African money dumped in the banks in their country. In my country we know that banks look for deposits, with $70 billion in America banks including others yet to be mentioned why America economy won’t recover fast after the financial crisis. International Monetary Fund IMF will continue to tell African Countries to devalue her currencies I think the IMF is lending to African Countries the loots of our rulers most of the banks are hiding especially the notorious “Swiss banks. “Why will United Nation and Common Wealth not address this man’s inhumanity to man. Suspend them from league of civilized people and isolate them, and return the loots back to Africa instead of enslaving us more with borrowed funds from IMF.

Demonstrators trampling on the poster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

In African countries after being an ex this or that they will become multi millionaires and receive awards of best looters and diversion of public funds, this have been the bane of African development over the years. United Nation, don’t wait to give us relief fund, no fly zones and humanitarian activities but refuse and impose sanctions on any bank that indulge in keeping this loots

Nelson Mandela

We have had leaders in Africa like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania of blessed memory, Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique and Madiba Nelson Mandela, I don’t know about others.

~ By Hope Obioma Opara

Monday, December 27, 2010

ECOWAS Give a Final Warning to Mr. Laurent Gbabgo

Laurent Gbagbo

26 Dec 2010 15:30 Africa/Lagos

Cote d'Ivoire / ECOWAS give a final warning to Mr. Laurent Gbabgo

ABUJA, December 26, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following a press statement isssued by ECOWAS on 20th December, 2010 which urges Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, the former President of Cote D'Ivoire to hand over power to Mr. Allassan Outarra, a request which Mr. Gbagbo has refused to adhere to caused ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to convene an extra-ordinary meeting in Abuja, Nigeria to find ways by which Mr. Gbagbo can be forced out of office.

11 Heads of State assembled in Abuja on Friday on the invitation of the Chairman of ECOWAS, H.E Goodluck Egbele Jonathan and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Victor Gbeho to give a final warning to Mr. Laurent Gbabgo with the firm position that if Mr. Gbagbo continues to hold on to power illegally, ECOWAS will have no choice but to remove him forcefully, in an effort to allow the winner of the elections Mr.Allassan Outarra to assume office.

Sierra Leone's delegation to the Abuja extra-ordinary meeting on Cote D'Ivoire was led by President Ernest Bai Koroma and was accompanied by the Foreign Minister, Mr. J.B Dauda and the Information and Communication Minister, I.B Kargbo.

The Christmas eve meeting on Cote D'Ivoire was treated by the Heads of State seriously, because according to the Chairman Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, the international community expects ECOWAS to provide leadership in resolving the political impasse in Cote D'Ivoire.

The ECOWAS Heads of State believe that it is unacceptable for a country within the sub region to be ruled by two Presidents and two Prime Ministers.The same ECOWAS Authority also believes that Mr. Laaurent Gbagbo lost the elections and should therefore allow Mr. Allassan Outarra to take over power.

the United Nations Secuirty Council earlier in a Press Statement of 20th December, 2010 condemned in the strongest possible terms President Laurent Gbagbo's attempt to usurp the will of the people and undermine the integrity of the electoral process and any progress in the peace process in Cote D'Ivoire.

The Chairman of the African Union on 6th December, 2010 circulated a Press Release from the African Union to support the United Nations by suspending the participation of Cote D'Ivoire from all African Union activities untill the democratically elected President, Allassan Outarra effectively assume State Power.

Although Mr. Laurent Gbagbo still attempts to perform Presidential duties by usurping the State radio and television, bribing the military to support him and import mercenaries into Cote D'Ivoire to help him stay in office, the international community including ECOWAS believes that he should not continue to stay in office which lead to the imposition of sanctions and travel ban on him and his close allies.

The Heads of State of ECOWAS at their meeting in Abuja on Friday said that Mr. Gbagbo be given one final chance to make up his mind to vacate office.

In the spirit of brotherliness in Africa, three Presidents have been nominated by their colleagues to confront Mr. Gbagbo in Abidjan to encourage him to leave office without delay. The three Presidents can fly back with Mr. Gbagbo, as all ECOWAS countries are prepared to grant him assylum.

Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who played a pivotal role in the discussions supports the ECOWAS,United Nations and Europpean Union positions that Mr. Laurent Gbagbo should hand over power to the man who actually won the elections, Mr. Allassan Outarra.

Source: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Friday, February 26, 2010

UN and Africa to Discuss Mercenaries and Private Military and Security Companies

25 Feb 2010 21:15 Africa/Lagos

UN and Africa to discuss mercenaries and private military and security companies

ADDIS ABABA, February 25, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Representatives of some 25 from African States will meet on 3 and 4 March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries* to discuss the presence and activities of mercenaries and private military and security companies (PMSCs) on the continent.

“This regional consultation in Africa is of particular importance given that the region is becoming a key market for the security industry”, said Shaista Shameem, who currently heads the Working Group. "However, PMSCs have remained largely unregulated, insufficiently monitored and rarely held accountable for the international crimes and human rights abuses they have committed.”

This meeting is the fourth of a series of five regional consultations which will end with the consultation with the Western European and Others Group in Geneva in April 2010. “This mandate was created in 1987 in a context in which the right of peoples to self-determination in Africa was often threatened by mercenary activities”, said Ms. Shameem.

State representatives will exchange good practices and lessons learned on the monitoring and regulation of the activities of private military and security companies and in particular on the adoption of a possible draft convention regulating their activities.

The Working Group said it “welcomes this opportunity to build on national experience in the continent to discuss general guidelines and principles for national and international regulation and oversight of the activities of private companies with the aim of encouraging the protection of human rights.”

(*) The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Shaista Shameem (Chairperson-Rapporteur, Fiji), Ms. Najat al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), and Mr. Alexander Nikitin (Russian Federation).

Source: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Releases displayed in Africa/Lagos time
25 Feb 2010
African Union / Press statement of the 217th meeting of the Peace and Security Council

UN and Africa to discuss mercenaries and private military and security companies
The African Union Commision and UNESCO discus ways to strengthen cooperation ties
South Africa / Media body wants legislation to protect journalists' sources
Côte d'Ivoire / UNOCI chief attends 18th meeting of heads of UN peace missions in west Africa
African Union commemorates eighth Africa Environment Day

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Children International Stands Up & Takes Action with the United Nations to Help Fight Poverty

Children International Stands Up & Takes Action with the United Nations to Help Fight Poverty

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 15, 2009) /PRNewswire/ — Children International joins the United Nations’ campaign to fight poverty one child at a time!

The U.S.-based humanitarian organization, which helps poor children around the world, invites you to observe the fourth annual “Stand Up & Take Action” event October 16-18 by supporting the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to end hunger and poverty.

Nearly 300,000 Children International contributors have stood up and taken action every month by pledging their constant financial and emotional support of one child living in desperate poverty. In 2008, 116 million people took part in United Nations’ Stand Up & Take Action events around the world.

In response to the global food crisis and skyrocketing food prices, Children International has established a new Emergency Lifeline Food Program in 2008 which provides badly-needed food to poor children and their families whose constant fight against poverty leaves them hungry and malnourished. The Emergency Lifeline Food Program provides vitamins, enriched food and nutrition education to children and their parents in local community centers in 11 countries around the world. In the first half of this year, Children International provided food and nutrients to more than 17,000 children through their nutritional rehabilitation program.

This year, millions of participants plan to commemorate the event by organizing tree-plantings, music vigils and blood drives.

Children International’s President and CEO Jim Cook said, “Children International works every day to support the United Nations’ goals to end global poverty by lifting poor children out of crushing poverty. By partnering with Stand Up & Take Action, we will make a difference in the lives of poor children around the world.”

To learn more about how to help relieve poverty one child at a time, visit Children International.

To learn more about other events taking place around the world, visit Stand Against Poverty.

About Children International:
Established in 1936, Children International is a nonprofit organization with its headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. Children International’s programs benefit more than 325,000 sponsored children and their families in 11 countries around the world including Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Zambia, Honduras, India, the Philippines and the United States. For more information about Children International, visit

Press Contact:
Dolores Quinn Kitchin
Public Relations
Children International
Direct: (816) 943-3730
Cell: (816) 718-0711

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