Security risks in Abidjan

The situation in Ivory Coast and mainly in the economic capital Abidjan since last year’s presidential elections remains unstable. The newly elected head of state Alassane Ouattara was also recognized by the international community too. In spite of this his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refuses until now to step down /under the pretext that the elections have been manipulated/ and organizes an armed resistance against the legally elected President. The clashes currently have reached  a decisive phase. The city of Abidjan  held by the incumbent president’s forces remains the  main enclave of the opposition  after Alassane Ouattara established control over most of the country. It is estimated that ca. 10000 supporters of Laurent Gbagbo,  armed with tanks and light weapons are in town. A preparation for decisive offensive is being made after the French contingent of  Licorne,s military base  /ca. 1400 men/ and the UN forces /numbering about 900 soldiers who since 2003 enforce the truce between the battling tribal groups/ established control over “Felix Houphouet Boigny””  international airport.


The military conflict causes fear, chaos and panic among the population /the number of killed during the last three days exceeds 1000/ and is the main cause for the unfolding humanitarian crisis. Some estimate that more than 1 million people have fled their homes, some of them finding shelter in catholic missions. The population is horrified and panic stricken by the incumbent president through killings and terror and his supporters attack the homes of Alassane Ouattare’s followers and put entire families to death.


The security risks for the foreign citizens who happened to be around and who are threatened by  looting, kidnappings and racket  dramatically increased. Nearly 1700 foreigners /including ca. 800 French citizens/ have been sheltered at  Licorne’s military base. The restoration of the civil flights and the evacuation of the foreign subjects are under preparation. Despite of the efforts four foreign citizens – two French /the director of hotel Novotel and the chairman of the board of Ivorian agro-industrial group Sifca, one Beninese and one Malaysian/ have been kidnapped from Novotel Abidjan /Abidjan/.


The commercial vessels in the Abidjan port  and their crews /18 Bulgarian and 3 Ukrainian sailors are on one of the vessels/ are also under threat. They can not leave the area, the borders have been closed. They are isolated from any information about the events in town and the port administration is also closed. The civil servants can not reach their homes because the streets are blocked and there is  a risk for their lives.


The situation in Ivory Coast and mainly in one of the biggest and important cities Abidjan can be assessed as extremely tense. There is a danger of a wave of refugee  and a humanitarian crisis is looming. The population is subjected to an unprecedented terror and mortal fear. The situation analysis shows that Laurent Gbagbo’s forces will be driven out from town which will mark the beginning of the end of their resistance.


The security risks for the foreign citizens dramatically rise. Measures on the part of the international community are urgently needed for mediating in establishing contacts between the ship owners and the vessel crews with the task to guarantee the security and the normal conditions for the sailors stranded in the closed port.


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