At least 800 dead in communal violence in Western Côte d’Ivoire

At least 800 people were killed March 29 during communal violence in the Carrefour district of the city of Duékoué, west of the country, according to information gathered on site by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“This event is particularly shocking in its scale and brutality, ” said Dominique Liengme, head of the ICRC delegation in Côte d’Ivoire. “The ICRC condemns direct attacks on civilians and reiterates the obligation of parties to conflict to ensure in all circumstances the protection of populations in the territory they control. ”

In addition, tens of thousands of men, women and children have fled fighting and looting that took place in the city since last Monday. The various communities of the city and surrounding Duékoué had already been hit hard several times by violence.

Civil violence may very soon become the main concern in Côte d’Ivoire and is very likely to claim far more lives than the military battles. With the dismissal of regular police and army forces, and other soldiers kept busy in the battles to take down Gbagbo security apparatus, the focus has been drawn away from grievances between local communities, such as in the Duékoué “Carrefour” neighbourhood.

The UN troops should not be making the mistake of concentrating around the military battle areas, at the expense of fragile communities in pro-Gbagbo or pro-Ouattara territory.

Also listen to Corinne Dufka of Human Rights Watch discussing the brutality of the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire on Democracy Now.

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