New York – I am deeply concerned about recent developments in Côte d’Ivoire.
On 5 April, while Mr. Gbagbo’s camp claimed that they had initiated negotiations to end the crisis peacefully and ordered their forces to lay down their arms, they in fact used that time to regroup their forces and redeploy heavy weapons. Mr. Gbagbo’s forces have since resumed attacks using these weapons against the civilian population, UNOCI Headquarters and patrols, as well as the Golf Hotel where the Headquarters of the legitimate Government of President Ouattara is located.
On 6 April, UNOCI Headquarters at Sebroko Hotel received sustained rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and sniper fire from Camp Gallieni. On the same day, RPGs were fired at UNOCI patrols in the vicinity of the Agban gendarmerie camp and in the Marcory neighbourhood, while UN military and formed police positions securing the two main bridges in Abidjan were also attacked.
On 7 April, Mr. Gbagbo’s forces used armoured personnel carriers (APCs) mounted with heavy machine guns to attack the civilian population in Adjamé and Attecoube districts. More than 200 civilians from the two districts came to UNOCI Headquarters to seek refuge, and the Mission treated 50 wounded civilians.
On 9 April, Mr. Gbagbo’s forces launched an attack on the Golf Hotel from several directions. UNOCI forces and formed police units deployed at the Golf Hotel successfully repelled the attack, in keeping with Security Council resolution 1962 (2010). No casualties were reported among members of President Ouattara’s Government and other civilians residing at the hotel. One UNOCI peacekeeper was wounded.
These actions are unacceptable and cannot continue. The continued use of heavy weapons against the civilian population and our peacekeepers, as well as the attack against the Headquarters of the legitimate Government, have compelled me, once again, to instruct UNOCI to use all necessary means to prevent the use of these weapons, pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1975 (2011) and 1962 (2010).
Accordingly, around 17:00 hrs Abidjan time today, UNOCI undertook a military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons which threaten the civilian population of Abidjan and our peacekeepers. At my request, the French Licorne forces have extended the necessary support to UNOCI, in keeping with paragraph 17 of Security Council resolution 1962 (2010). I have informed the Security Council accordingly.
I am particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation across the country and about human rights abuses. Civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence—the fighting must stop. Mr. Gbagbo needs to step aside immediately.