Up to One Million Human Beings–Not a Typo–Flee Ivory Coast

This is just shocking, and it’s being drowned out by other headlines.

The UN is reporting that as many as a million people–a number incomprehensible to the human mind–have fled their homes. 

“The massive displacement in Abidjan and elsewhere is being fueled by fears of all-out war,” Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Geneva.

Among those who have fled the fighting are at least 500,000 children, said aid group Save The Children in a statement released Friday.

The UN Security Council is meeting to consider a French resolution to enable UN peacekeepers to use “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. 

Pass it. This sounds more and more like imminent genocide. 

The ICG said that with half a million people displaced as Gbagbo forces battle to oust the internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara, there was increasing sexual violence, summary executions and even people burnt alive. ”Gbagbo’s regime is intentionally driving the country to chaos,” it added. 

  1. ParisParamus

    Did the French colonize the most dysfuctional places in the world, or to quote Captain Picard, did they “make is so”?

  2. Kenneth

    And this would be a civil war between whom and whom?

    Why, that would be, um, between Muslims and Christians. 

    Ivory Coast is traditionally Christian.  Then Muslims from surrounding countries came in to work in agriculture and decided they wanted the whole country. 

  3. flownover

    This doesn’t look good. First, the UN is usually present at the site of the massacre although hiding behind a Romeo Dallaire type. In this case, the majority of them are probably counting their mayonnaise jars and eggs.

    Second, they are probably headed to Ghana. I can see someone or someone’s son right about now scheming some way to parlay that into money. There should be a large amount of money outflowing to Kofi or Kojo about now to “assist” in the refugee crisis plaguing Ghana.

    I can almost hear the gold Vertu’s ringing in Cap dAntibes now.

    Poor Africa. Wholly unprepared for the false constructs left behind by the colonialists and the communists and the capitalists. What could have been done differently as Europe retreated during the Wars ? 

  4. Stuart Creque
    ParisParamus: Did the French colonize the most dysfuctional places in the world, or to quote Captain Picard, did they “make is so”? · Mar 25 at 9:53am

    It was the Belgians.  Some five million – 5,000,000 – people have died in the ongoing militia wars in DR Congo, and about a million of those since the arrival of UN “peacekeeping” forces.  As we now know, some of the peacekeepers quickly figured out that their guns and food gave them tools to use in bartering with and extorting sex from the local teenage (and pre-teen) girls.

  5. Chris Deleon
    ParisParamus: Did the French colonize the most dysfuctional places in the world, or to quote Captain Picard, did they “make is so”?

    We don’t need to start French-bashing, Mr. Paris.  History is history– right now it sounds like the time to think about the displacement and the violence and how, if at all, we can stop it.

    I would however venture to suggest that the heritage of freedom coupled with responsibility that we inherited from the British, and have improved in our continent, has served us well, and we should not be bashful about saying so.  In the short run, if we care about the people in poorer, more violent countries, we may want to help stop these violent acts.  But in the long run, we and they would be better served by dropping the neutral stance on culture, and promote the best parts of our own while being open enough to learn the best parts of other cultures.  (We could start at home– if we don’t, we’ll end up like these third-world countries in the long run.)

  6. Stuart Creque

     flownover is right: the UN peacekeepers won’t accomplish much because there is in fact no peace to keep, nor are the Blue Helmets all that interested in dying for someone else’s country.  The question will boil down to which side can offer the best “collateral compensation” for the UN forces’ passive acquiescence.

    Of course, maybe Cote d’Ivoire is qualitatively different from Lebanon or Haiti or DR Congo, and the UN forces will somehow be spectacularly effective there.  But more likely a good outcome in Cote d’Ivoire will require massive military aid to the Ouattarra government, hopefully with advisors to teach the army how to show restraint and respect for civilians as it fights.

  7. Kenneth

    Nigeria: Muslim north, Christian south.  Bloodbath ensues.

    Sudan: Muslim north, Christian south.  Bloodbath ensues.

    Ivory Coast: Muslim north, Christian south.  Bloodbath ensues.

    Is there a pattern here?

  8. flownover
    Kenneth: Nigeria: Muslim north, Christian south.  Bloodbath ensues.

    Sudan: Muslim north, Christian south.  Bloodbath ensues.

    Ivory Coast: Muslim north, Christian south.  Bloodbath ensues.

    Is there a pattern here? · Mar 25 at 10:30am

    Oversimplification in that these folks haven’t needed that diversity to go bloody. Age old traditions. Your analogy is a funding and arms analysis in recent times. Look at Dearborn Michigan, same dichotomy, different results. 

  9. Chris Deleon
    Kenneth: And this would be a civil war between whom and whom?

    Why, that would be, um, between Muslims and Christians. 

    Ivory Coast is traditionally Christian.  Then Muslims from surrounding countries came in to work in agriculture and decided they wanted the whole country.

    I think this is a bit inaccurate.  The violence is, yes along ethnic and religious lines, but Islam was there before Christianity.  Gbagbo, the bad guy, is apparently a Catholic, and Muslim immigrants did come in from surrounding countries.  From my very limited reading (I can’t claim any better knowledge than that), the biggest line of division was natives vs. immigrants, though religion I’m sure had an unfortunate hand in amplifying those divisions.

  10. Kenneth
    Chris Deleon

    Kenneth: A

     I think this is a bit inaccurate.  The violence is, yes along ethnic and religious lines, but Islam was there before Christianity.  Gbagbo, the bad guy, is apparently a Catholic, and Muslim immigrants did come in from surrounding countries.  From my very limited reading (I can’t claim any better knowledge than that), the biggest line of division was natives vs. immigrants, though religion I’m sure had an unfortunate hand in amplifying those divisions. · Mar 25 at 10:36am

    In the pre-colonial era, what is now the Ivory Coast was divided into a shifting melange of small empires.  Some of these in the north became Islamic, driving the indigenous population to the south.  The southern majority became Christians during the colonial period. 

    The current turmoil, which pre-dates the recent election, is a result of increasing Muslim immigration over the past few decades and the Christians’ well-founded fear of another Darfur.

  11. Claire Berlinski
    C

    Gbagbo calls himself an Evangelical Christian. I don’t think he’s got much of a handle on Christian values, however. 

  12. Joseph Eagar
    Chris Deleon

    We don’t need to start French-bashing, Mr. Paris.  History is history– right now it sounds like the time to think about the displacement and the violence and how, if at all, we can stop it.

    I would however venture to suggest that the heritage of freedom coupled with responsibility that we inherited from the British, and have improved in our continent, has served us well, and we should not be bashful about saying so.  In the short run, if we care about the people in poorer, more violent countries, we may want to help stop these violent acts.  But in the long run, we and they would be better served by dropping the neutral stance on culture, and promote the best parts of our own while being open enough to learn the best parts of other cultures.  (We could start at home– if we don’t, we’ll end up like these third-world countries in the long run.) · Mar 25 at 10:18am

    That’s the most articulate case I’ve heard yet on this topic.  I wish I could write that well.

  13. Xennady

    Alassane Ouattara: Muslim or Christian?

    From what’s not said I’ll guess muslim. I’ll deliberately not google this just because.

    The cynic in me says if Alassane is a Christian no one would care much if the Catholic other guy refuses to accept election results or whatever. Just another day in Africa. Who cares?

    But if Alassane is a muslim- OMG!!  This is an international crisis!!! Teh evil Christian racists hate muslims blah blah blah!!!! The international community must mobilize yadda yadda yadda!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I suspect that this is the only reason I’ve heard about this at all.

    Unfortunately. But I am a cynic. I’d be happy to be wrong.

     

  14. ParisParamus

    LOL Belgians are depressed Frenchmen with better French fries.

    (I KID I KID.  Mostly….)

  15. Hang On

    Kenneth:

    The first President of Ivory Coast was Muslim. He was a pretty good President — especially compared to what has come since.  The French installed Soudanais in virtually all of their ex-colonies. 

    What has happened since is the presence of Saudi money building madrassas and mosques and exporting Wahabism. The first President of Cameroun (another Soudanais whom the French installed in the middle of a war for independence turned civil war) wouldn’t let the Saudis do this and they have not had the kind of religious tensions between the Muslim north and Christian/animist south that other countries have.  Even the north Muslim-south Christian is too oversimplified. There are often tribes in the north that were Christian and tribes in the south that were Muslim. And really, everybody is still an animist to one degree or another.  You just have to get them in the right mood to talk about it and what they do when they go back to their village.

  16. Stuart Creque
    ParisParamus: LOL Belgians are depressed Frenchmen with better French fries.

    (I KID I KID.  Mostly….) · Mar 25 at 11:35am

    It would be nice if they had a real country to call their own — the Belgians, I mean.

    Or maybe just agreed to split into new provinces of the Netherlands and France — so long as the chocolate, beer and frites don’t suffer as a result.

  17. Mama Toad

     The associate pastor at my Catholic church is from Ghana, a neighbor of Ivory Coast. Many Ghanians work in Ivory Coast, and vice versa. Of five siblings, my priest is Catholic, two of his brothers are Muslims, one sister is Catholic, and one brother is evangelical. If there is civil war, it is likely to be more complicated than “Muslim north, Christian south.”

  18. Stuart Creque
    Mama Toad:  The associate pastor at my Catholic church is from Ghana, a neighbor of Ivory Coast. Many Ghanians work in Ivory Coast, and vice versa. Of five siblings, my priest is Catholic, two of his brothers are Muslims, one sister is Catholic, and one brother is evangelical. If there is civil war, it is likely to be more complicated than “Muslim north, Christian south.” · Mar 25 at 5:33pm

    Mama, what does your associate pastor think of former President Rawlings?  On the one hand, he seems to have successfully navigated Ghana from military coup to democratic rule, but on the other hand, he apparently still is making noises about the potential for a new military coup.

  19. Mama Toad
    Stuart Creque

    Mama Toad:  The associate pastor at my Catholic church is from Ghana, a neighbor of Ivory Coast. Many Ghanians work in Ivory Coast, and vice versa. Of five siblings, my priest is Catholic, two of his brothers are Muslims, one sister is Catholic, and one brother is evangelical. If there is civil war, it is likely to be more complicated than “Muslim north, Christian south.” · Mar 25 at 5:33pm

    Mama, what does your associate pastor think of former President Rawlings?  On the one hand, he seems to have successfully navigated Ghana from military coup to democratic rule, but on the other hand, he apparently still is making noises about the potential for a new military coup. · Mar 26 at 11:16am

    Sorry for delay in replying. Don’t know what he thinks of President Rawlings, but he thinks the UN should have called for a new election in IvoryCoast. He doesn’t believe that Outtara won fairly — he does not think the old president should have stayed, but he believes there were enough election irregularities that it all should be different. He said people on the borders of Ghana are worried about the influx of urban refugees.

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