Ivory Coast situation deteriorates

Human rights are not being respected in Cote d’Ivoire

Abidjan (Agenzia Fides) – The confrontation between the armed forces of Côte d’Ivoire, who support the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, and the supporters of President-elect, Alassane Ouattara is becoming increasingly dramatic. In particular, Gbagbo’s forces continue to make strikes on the neighbourhoods in Abidjan (the administrative capital of the Country), where Ouattara’s men are concentrated. “In the afternoon of Thursday, 17 March, artillery rounds fell within 100 meters of our house. There have been numerous deaths and injuries,” says Sister Rosaria from the Congregation of the Holy Family of Spoleto, from Abobo, in Abidjan where fighting began between the security forces that remained loyal to Gbabo and the ‘invisible commando’, a group close to President-elect Alassane Ouattara. “On Friday, 18 March, we were at the funerals of victims from the previous day when they fired more shots, causing panic among the people. I was told that there were other deaths, although I did not see them,” says the sister.
“In the afternoon of Monday, 21 March, other shots were fired near the monastery of the Poor Clares. Fortunately, the sisters were in the chapel praying,” continues Sister Rosaria. The sister describes the drama that the neighbourhood is going through: “Rounds are fired suddenly, when you least expect it. The exodus of the population continues. There are people dying of starvation because food and medical supplies are scarce. Add to that the effects of heat on the physically debilitated. After the bombing this morning, the people in the district seem to have disappeared, no one knows where. Perhaps they are preparing something dramatic.”
Sister Rosaria is outraged because “human rights are not being respected. It is impossible to watch people dying simply because they have no medicine. The pharmacies are closed and the embargo that was imposed (to force Gbagbo to concede power), aggravates the situation. The people are tired of not having anything.”
“It is the poor who are paying the price for everyone. The smallest pay in the struggle for power. I saw an eight year old girl taken to the dispensary with her brains hanging out of her head. How can we stop this massacre?” asks the sister. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 23/3/2011)
A further report from Fides – dated 22 March states:
Towards civil war to the indifference of the international community;
damage to a convent in Clarisse

Abidjan (Agenzia Fides) – “Côte d’Ivoire is sliding into civil war,” reveal local Church sources to Fides, who for security motives wish to remain anonymous. “The fighting in Abidjan, the administrative and economic capital of the Country, is the order of the day. Whole areas of the city are invested in the violence, especially in Abobo and Yopougon, where civilians have managed to escape or be trapped in their houses,” say our sources.
“In Abobo yesterday a convent of Poor Clares was hit by heavy artillery. Luckily the sisters, who were praying in the chapel, were not hurt, but the monastery sustained some damage,” report local sources. “The Religious leaders of Côte d’Ivoire are trying to mediate, but it seems difficult to contact the two parties. Communication difficulties also hamper the process of finding a common position among the religious representatives”, concludes our source.
According to local news reports, the party of outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo has called on young supporters to enlist en masse in the armed forces. The militiamen of the New Forces, the former rebels, who support the President-elect Alassane Ouattara, went into attack in the west, while continuing their offensive in Abidjan, towards the district of Cocody, where the corridors of power are concentrated.
The Government of Nigeria has criticised the ‘contradictions’ of the international community, which is focusing its attention on Libya, to the detriment of Côte d’Ivoire on the brink of a real civil war. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 22/3/2011)

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