Statement by the Secretary-General on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire
4 April 2011 - I am very concerned about developments in Côte d’Ivoire.
The security situation has deteriorated dramatically over the past days with fighting having escalated between forces loyal to President Ouattara and those forces remaining loyal to Mr. Gbagbo. This is a direct consequence of Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to relinquish power and allow a peaceful transition to President Ouattara.
The country has been plunged into violence with a heavy toll on the civilian population.
In the past few days, forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo have intensified and escalated their use of heavy weapons such as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns against the civilian population in Abidjan.
These forces have also targeted the Headquarters of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) at Sebroko Hotel with heavy-calibre sniper fire as well as mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Four peacekeepers have been wounded in these attacks. Furthermore, forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo have attacked UNOCI patrols dispatched to protect civilians and convoys transporting wounded in Abidjan, resulting in several more wounded peacekeepers.
Consequently, pursuant to paragraph 6 of Security Council resolution 1975 (2011) of 30 March 2011, I have instructed the Mission to take the necessary measures to prevent the use of heavy weapons against the civilian population, with the support of the French forces pursuant to paragraph 17 of Security Council resolution 1962 (2010).
In this regard, around 5pm local time today, UNOCI undertook a military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons which threaten the civilian population of Abidjan.
I have informed the Security Council. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations will brief the Security Council soon.
Let me emphasize that UNOCI is not a party to the conflict. In line with its Security Council mandate, the Mission has taken this action in self defence and to protect civilians.
I again remind all those who commit serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws that they will be held accountable.
New York, 4 April 2011