Reprisal killings, rape and adduction are currently heightening in western Cote d’Ivoire close to the Liberian border against people reported to be pro-Gbagbo supporters.
These crimes against humanity are being allegedly committed in the west, central and east of Cote d’Ivoire by rebels of the New Forces, including Liberian mercenaries loyal to the western-backed Ivorian President Alassene Ouattara.
Correspondent Johnson sharty who’s currently visiting Cote d’Ivoire says such alleged heinous crimes are continuing to propel the influx of Ivoirians as refugees here in the aftermath of Gbagbo’s political demise since Monday.
According to him, about 1,000 Ivoirians have, for the past three days, crossed into Liberia. Johnson quoted the new arrivals as accusing pro-Ouattara forces of going from village to village, town to town hunting and eliminating tribesmen, supporters and sympathizers of the former president in the west, central and east of the country.
Back in Liberia, he said the bê’te’ (the grebos of Cote d’Ivoire), Gbagbo’s ethnic group and tribes with similar links are being targeted. A 79-year refugee, who crossed into Liberia Wednesday, is also quoted as saying that many residents of such towns and villages within the Toulepleu area were being wiped out by pro-Ouattara forces.
Another refugee, a female told this paper how her fellow Ivoirians (refugees) were being killed and adducted by the Ouattara’s rebels. She said children were adducted, while teenage girls were sexually abuse, citing an incident where an 8-month old baby was taken away by the rebels from their hide-out in the village.
More people are reported to be in hiding, particularly in the bushes to escape reprisals by against them pro-Ouattara forces. In the wake of the alleged atrocities, there are mixed reactions to Monday’s arrest and detention of the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo within the refugee community in Liberia.
Most of the refugees from the western, central and eastern regions of Cote d’Ivoire are accusing France of trying to re-colonize their country. The refugees are quoted as saying that they were refusing to return home after the arrest and detention of Gbagbo because they believe the conflict was far from over.
They complained about the beating of President Gbagbo’s son, Michel, and other Gbagbo supporters by pro-Ouattara forces, as screened by a French TV. They said the conflict in their country goes beyond elections, pointing out the issue of Ivoirite (who is real Ivoirian) between the Christian-dominated west, central and east, and Muslim- dominated north as the core of the conflict.
Other refugees also welcomed the news saying that though their sufferings were over, they were still worried about returning home. They said the refusal of the former president to accept defeat in the last 28 November run-off, prompted the severe violence causing them deaths and destruction.
They noted that if Gbagbo knew he did not have the capacity to continue the conflict, he should not have allowed it to have dragged on.