UN: 300,000 Still Displaced in Ivory Coast

Posted June 14th, 2011 at 9:15 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations refugee agency has said there are still at least 320,000 displaced persons in Ivory Coast, two months after the end of a violent political crisis.

The agency said Tuesday an assessment team has been traveling the country to register refugees and get a clearer picture of the current situation.

It said most of the displaced people are in western Ivory Coast, where some of the fiercest fighting took place during a four-month power struggle between rival presidents.

Spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said more than 132,000 displaced persons are located in the west, more than 62,000 in the north, followed by nearly 56,000 in the main city, Abidjan.

Fleming also said there are still more than 200,000 Ivorian refugees in neighboring countries.

The crisis began when former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power after losing a November presidential election to Alassane Ouattara.

The dispute sparked unrest that killed more than 3,000 people and displaced up to one million.

Pro-Ouattara forces captured Mr. Gbagbo in Abidjan April 11 after attacks on the presidential palace by French and U.N. forces.

The refugee agency said the security situation has improved in some areas, but that tensions remain high in others, such as in southwestern Sassandra region. The agency said gunmen loyal to Mr. Gbagbo killed 280 civilians there in early May.

U.N. human rights investigators say they have evidence that both sides may have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes during the conflict. The U.N. has called on the Ivorian government to carry out an impartial investigation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.