The heads of the United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and Liberia (UNMIL) along with Government officials from both nations, met yesterday, 13 June 2012 in Abidjan for a quadripartite meeting.
The main focus of the meeting was for representatives of both governments, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, to come up with a strategy to enhance border security in light of the recent incidents of 8 June in the area Tai, namely, the attack on peacekeepers from the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) in which seven (7) military personnel from the Niger contingent were killed, as well as the related incidents during which at least 10 civilian and one (1) Ivoirian military were also killed.
Regarding the incident, the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia conveyed their condolences on the tragic loss of seven ONUCI peacekeepers. They also expressed their full support and readiness to work together with the UN missions in both nations to prevent a repeat of such incidents.
The heads of the United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and Liberia (UNMIL) reiterated in the strongest possible terms their outrage and condemnation of the 8 June attack on peacekeepers from the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), as well as the related incidents during which a number of civilians and an Ivoirian military were also killed. “We would like to convey once again our most sincere condolences to the Government of Niger and to the families of the deceased Blue Helmets as well as our deepest sympathies to the Government, the people of Côte d’Ivoire and the families of the Ivoirian victims” said UNOCI SRSG, Mr. Albert Gerard Kœnders.
Mr. Moustapha Soumaré, UNMIL’s Acting SRSG said : “This unacceptable incident is a tragic reminder of the very high price that peacekeepers are sometimes called upon to pay in serving peace in countries emerging from conflict.”
The two heads of missions concurred that this has also demonstrated the need to continue to reinforce the cooperation between the two neighbouring countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, supported by their two partners ONUCI and UNMIL, for the consolidation of peace in the sub region. They also agreed to reinforce the existing inter-mission cooperation in light of the new development at the borders.
The situation in the west of Côte d’Ivoire and in the border area with Liberia remains volatile. We are concerned by the displacement of people particularly women and children, that have been triggered by these attacks, noted SRSG Kœnders. “Effective protection of civilians, support to the humanitarian efforts and assistance in the strengthening of the borders security is and will remain at the top of UNOCI and UNMIL priorities. The Humanitarian Coordinators in both countries with support from OCHA and relevant stakeholders are coordinating the humanitarian response”.
Mr. Soumaré highlighted that both missions are exercising maximum vigilance since last week’s attack and both missions have intensified their patrols in the border areas, in order to protect the citizens. Air assets are currently in full use to complement the ground patrols.
UNOCI and UNMIL have been in constant touch to coordinate their response, explained the two UN Envoys, and both missions have taken immediate measures, including deploying additional elements to their respective areas along the common Ivorian-Liberian border, a highly densely forested and hostile terrain, in order to secure the border and protect citizens. UNOCI and UNMIL leadership have also been in constant contact with the Ivorian and Liberian authorities, respectively. The two missions will keep reinforcing their cooperation, sharing of information and coordination of efforts.
Joining the UN Secretary-General’s wishes, both heads of missions reiterated their hope that the utmost would be done to find the perpetrators of these acts. Mr. Kœnders noted that at the same time, it is crucial that messages of reconciliation be strengthened in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular in the West of the country.
The UN envoys welcomed the steps taken by the Government representatives of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia at the meeting in Abidjan, noting that this was a testament to the desire of the two nations to ensure stability reigns in the region.