Daily Brief on Cote d’Ivoire for Friday, 5 December 2008
- UNOCI celebrates UN Volunteers Day
- Ministry of Construction civil servants say FAFN still occupying their offices
- Human Rights Division raises concerns with FAFN military leader
The Principal Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire, Abou Moussa, today made an appeal for more women to join the UN volunteer service, so it can be more representative of the real world. Speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, at an official ceremony in Abidjan to mark the Day, Mr. Moussa lamented the fact out of a total of 295 volunteers working with UNOCI, only 24 percent were women. UNOCI's Chief of Mission Support, Wallace Divine, who spoke on behalf of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire Y.J. Choi, thanked UNOCI volunteers for the excellent work they were doing in the Mission. He said that they always carried out their duties in the various sections, with competence, grace and a smile. To mark the Day in Bouaké, UNOCI donated drinking water, food and personal items to a transit camp for people infected with HIV/AIDS. Staff and beneficiaries at the camp said that they were deeply moved by the gesture and expressed their gratitude to the Mission.
Redeployment of administration
The regional director of the Ivorian Ministry of Construction in the Vallée du Bandama has told UNOCI that only nine of his employees were currently working as their offices were still occupied by the Forces Nouvelles. As a result, the director said only some of the services that they provide, which include urban planning, issuing building permits and control and maintenance of public buildings, were available. The director said, however, that the FN did not interfere in the Ministry's work and that all the staff had received their redeployment allowances.
Staff in Daloa prison, have reportedly been on high alert since 1 December 2008, after hearing rumours that an unnamed group was planning to attack the prison in order to free a former militia member being held there. Approximately 30 militiamen accused of various offences are being held at the prison. The Ivorian Defence and Security forces have been informed. Prison officials told UNOCI that they had no defence plan in place.
Schoolchildren from a local secondary school in San Pedro yesterday demonstrated against the Mayor's office for having sold a plot of land in the Bardot neighbourhood that they said had been designated for the building of a new school.
UNOCI peacekeepers successfully carried out arms embargo inspections at the National Armed Forces of Cote d'Ivoire's (FANCI) regrouping site in Abengourou (east) and at the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles' (FAFN) unit in Nafoungolo, near Ferkessedougou (north).
On 2 December 2008, the Regional Human Rights Office in Daloa (centre west) met with the FAFN's Chief of Staff, General Soumaila Bakayoko, in Séguéla to discuss reported human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by some FAFN soldiers against others accused of being loyal to former Zone 5 commander, Zacharia Koné, during the violent confrontations in Séguéla (centre west) on 24 November 2008. The meeting was attended by Acting Zone 5 Commander Issiaka Ouattara alias Wattao. The Office stressed the importance of upholding human rights principles and standards and voiced concern over reports of arbitrary executions and arrests as well as illegal detention during the events. It also raised the case of one soldier named Doumbia Amara, who was allegedly abducted on 24 November 2008 at his residence in Séguéla.
In response, General Bakayoko expressed his commitment to promoting and protecting human rights within the FAFN and called on all FAFN members to respect human rights principles in relation to arrest and detention procedures. He said that military operations were now over in Séguéla and that Forces Nouvelles police were conducting in-depth investigations into the Séguéla attack.
The General also held a town hall meeting with the local population, including representatives of the Malian, Senegalese, Burkinabé and Guinean communities, to reaffirm his commitment to respect the rights of persons under arrest. He further encouraged them to systematically report cases of human rights violations to UNOCI. It should be recalled that dissident FAFN soldiers attacked the military HQ in Séguéla on 24 November 2008 in attempt to free their colleagues who were in detention. The attack resulted in nine deaths. According to reports a total of 73 alleged insurgents were arrested between 24 and 25 November 2008, of whom 42 were released on 2 December 2008 and 31 remain in detention.
The Regional Human Rights Office in Duekoué, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), organised a training of trainers session on gender-based violence for 20 soldiers, police and gendarmes on 3 December 2008 in the western town. The Office made a presentation on its mandate with special emphasis on the legal framework on rape and other violent acts against women.