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Editorial: Pleading For Our Compatriots in Cote d’Ivoire

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The West African State of Cote d’Ivoire has been in political turmoil since November’s Presidential poll, which Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara continue to claim. The political rivalry between the two men has now culminated into bitter armed clashes in the capital, Abidjan and the West of the Country to the detriment of the armless, including other West African migrants.

More than half a million people are now known to have fled the armed violence in the city and the west, almost leaving Abidjan as a ghost town with only forces loyal to the two rival presidents patrolling the streets and other communities, looting homes, adopting and secretly executing those perceived as enemies to them. As many continue to flee, thousands more remained stranded and cannot easily find their way out probably because of the risk involved or cash to facilitate their departure.

Among them are our own Liberians as the war rages on in Abidjan. Our compatriots continue to find it very difficult to leave as the city becomes infested with uncontrollable armed men conducting raids all over the place. We are informed that the Government of Liberia began an evacuation exercise, but  halted same for reasons we are yet to understand even though we’ve been encountering some difficulties in confirming the report with the Liberia Refugees, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission or LRRRC.

According to a source at the LRRRC, the decision was taken so as properly arrange accommodations for the repatriated Liberians. Another LRRRC source also disclosed that the government suspended the process on grounds that the first evacuees last Saturday on board a charter flight were all Ivoirians and not Liberians.

While the Government of Liberia is yet to make public pronouncement on the situation confronting our compatriots in Cot d’Ivoire just as it has done with those in Libya, we join international relief organizations in alerting the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration that as the world focuses on Libya and Japan probably due to the lack of interest, Cote d’Ivoire is rapidly becoming a forgotten humanitarian catastrophe. We are fully aware that a UN appeal for funds to help the Ivorian situation has met with little response, with an appeal for $32m receiving a discouraging response of just $7m so far.

The administration must also be made to understand that if UN aid agencies are already struggling with serious security issues and funding problems in their operation in Cote d’Ivoire, the security of our fellow Liberians will continue to be at a serious risk owing to the fact that there are other Liberians fighting on both sides of the Ivorian crisis.

We are quite knowledgeable about some of the undisclosed challenges public officials undergo in executing government or presidential mandates due to the inflicted impressions to satisfy her desire. And just as Madam President is following up projects and programs of her administration around the country, similar exercise must be done about her citizens not only in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, but also Ghana and Libya to show her concern and care.

Therefore, in view of the foregoing, we urge the government of Liberia led by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to be more proactive in dealing with the situation regarding our brothers and sisters in Abidjan and other areas in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire. Let us not wait until it’s too late, Madam President. Now is the time that our people must be made to understand that we care for and love them so dearly.

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