African News

Abidjan: Security Concerns Mount

6 February 2006 at 03:18 | 433 views

Reacting to ongoing threats against United Nations personnel in volatile Côte
d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the Security Council to
strengthen the UN peacekeeping operation (UNOCI) in the West African country.

A spokesman for Mr. Annan issued a statement in New York citing the threats as
well as reported plans for violent demonstrations and attacks.

A reinforcement of UNOCI’s military and police strength "would contribute to
enhancing the mission capacity to address the security challenges in Abidjan,"
spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York.

He recalled that the Secretary-General has asked the Security Council for a
limited emergency transfer of military and police personnel from the UN Mission
in Liberia (UNMIL) to reinforce UNOCI "after careful assessment of the situation
in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire."

On Friday, Mr. Annan wrote to the President of the Security Council requesting
that an infantry battalion and a formed police unit be sent from UNMIL to UNOCI
for an initial period of three months.

The relevant troop- and police-contributing countries have agreed, in principle,
to the temporary redeployment and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire has been
notified, according to the letter.

UN offices were put under siege, looted or destroyed for four days last month in
Abidjan, the commercial centre, and other towns.

On 24 January, faced with the imminent expiration of ONUCI’s mandate, the
Council extended it through mid-December and pledged to keep its troop strength
under review.

But the 15-member security body stopped short of meeting Secretary-General Kofi
Annan’s recommendation to significantly increase in the size of the force.

In a report to the Council, Mr. Annan called for an additional 3,400 soldiers or
four battalions to be added to UNOCI’s troop strength, plus an additional 475
police personnel.

The Council is scheduled to meet on Côte d’Ivoire on Monday.

Photo: Kofi Atta Annan

Source: UN News