Posted by: africanpressorganization | 1 November 2011

Côte d’Ivoire / New UNOCI head visits Duekoue



Côte d’Ivoire / New UNOCI head visits Duekoue


ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, November 1, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, Bert Koenders, conducted a working visit on Monday 31 October 2011 to Duékoué, a locality situated 502 kms from Abidjan. Within this framework, he met administrative, political and traditional authorities, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), internally displaced persons (IDPs), the UN Police and the 15th Moroccan battalion.

The new head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), who took office one week ago, wanted to have a first-hand look at the humanitarian and security situation in Duékoué. Mr. Koenders was accompanied by a strong delegation that included the commander of UNOCI’s force, General Gnakoudé Béréna.

« I have been in Côte d’Ivoire for one week now. I would like to discuss the situation with you because your region is very important for us, » said the Special Representative. “It has experienced much violence and bitterness. That is why I am paying my first visit to the interior of the country in Duékoué.” He recalled that legislative elections, during which UNOCI would have to support the IEC, contribute to protecting Ivorians, facilitate the return of IDPs, work for the respect of human rights and favour social cohesion, are to be held on 11 December 2011.

Deputy Mayor Paul Mondouho said he was happy that Mr. Koenders was visiting Duékoué first, one week after taking office. The town is unfortunately known for being the theatre of severe violence, he said. He also thanked UNOCI for all past actions carried out in the town and for the future actions that it envisages for Duékoué. 

The Prefect of the Department of Duékoué, Efoly Benjamin, gave a historical overview of the situation in his address to the meeting. He noted that Duékoué has a high percentage of foreigners and Ivorians coming from other areas, which had sparked rural land ownership crises. « These crises, » he said, « have caused the loss of many lives, looting, rape and the destruction of property, creating a rift between those concerned.

However, the Prefect stressed that the situation of the IDPs was improving, with their number dropping from 27,000 persons in mid-March to 2,700 today, most of them in the Catholic Mission. He also suggested factors that could facilitate the definitive return of peace and allow the population to live better. “Succeed in holding peaceful local elections, reinstall the displaced populations, fight against the proliferation of weapons, disarm the ex-combatants and the dozos, equip the gendarmerie and the police, put in place a mechanism for managing rural land ownership issues, and rehabilitate socio-economic infrastructure and certain villages,” he said.


After the working session with the administrative, political and traditional authorities, Mr. Koenders met the departmental office of the IEC, which communicated its needs to him. The SRSG stated that he had taken good note of this.

The head of UNOCI also met IDPs at the new site in Nahibly. He indicated to them that he had come to understand the reasons for their presence on the site and the challenges that remain with regard to their return to their respective homes. The IDPs stated that they had had to be transferred from the Catholic mission to the Nahibly site for reasons of hygiene.

Mr. Koenders then had a working session with the Moroccan batallion and the UN police. The two bodies presented their respective missions, and the stumbling blocks and constraints inherent to their activities.



Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire


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