French soldiers have moved more than 1,000 foreign nationals out of Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, for protection. They were escorted to a camp nearby, in Port Bouet. Paris said France’s Unicorn Mission now has some 1,600 military personnel in Ivory Coast.
One of the women brought to safety told about a brush with marauders: “They came into the house, and when they saw two women there they tried to do as they wanted with us. Luckily there were some decent ones in the group, who said that’s not what they were there for, and so they just went around breaking the place up. We managed to get away, and after that the French army came.”
The former French colony has some 12,000 French nationals living there, and more than 1,000 other EU citizens.
The top European humanitarian official, Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, made an impassioned plea: “I appeal to both Laurent Gbagbo and President-elect Alassane Ouatarra: for the sake of your people, for the sake of your neighbours, for the sake of humanity, please protect civilians, allow the help of humanitarian workers, and prevent Cote d’Ivoire from slipping further into civil war.”
France said it sent 150 additional peacekeepers at the weekend to join the United Nations force of 7,500. The UN said both peacekeepers and staff have been attacked over the last few days, as security has become more and more fragile.