Officials in Paris say they have proof that some of its citizens were raped during recent unrest in Ivory Coast, and they are promising to pursue those responsible.
Europeans have told of how they had to pretend they were Americans when confronted by crowds of angry Ivorians, who are calling for US, Russian or Chinese intervention to bring stability to their country. Attacks against mostly French and other Europeans erupted last week after France crippled the nation’s air force. That was in retaliation for an attack by Ivorian forces on a French base, which killed nine peacekeepers. Supporters of the country’s president, Laurent Gbagbo, accuse the French of trying to overthrow him, and backing rebels who took over the northern half of the country two years ago. Paris, which is Ivory Coast’s former colonial ruler, denies the claims. So far around 4,000 Europeans, mostly French nationals, have now been evacuated from the country, and many have told officials they do not want to return. Rebels have refused to attend peace talks with the government and opposition, and humanitarian agencies are warning of a lasting crisis that could destabilise the whole West African region.