Britons are joining the hundreds of French nationals who are fleeing Ivory Coast amid unrest and anti-Western attacks. More than 2,000 foreigners have left over the past two days, and now London has organised the evacuation of 200 Britons and closed the UK embassy. The British Ambassador to Ivory Coast, David Coates, said: “Once this opportunity to leave Cote d’Ivoire has passed by the end of today, anyone who stays will not have the normal consular protection, because the UK-based personnel of the embassy will also be leaving at the end of the evacuation.”
Rebels seized the north of the country in 2002. The latest unrest began after the government broke an 18-month ceasefire by bombing the north last week. “We’re continuing to do all we can in Ivory Coast,” said the French President. “To protect French nationals and other foreigners who want to leave, and to restart the process of national reconciliation.” France wiped out the Ivorian air force after it bombed a French base on Saturday, killing nine peacekeepers. Supporters of the Ivorian president accuse France of backing the rebels – claims denied by Paris. Rebels have so far shunned peace talks taking place in South Africa.