Mounting exodus of foreigners from Ivory Coast

12th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 12 (AFP) - The exodus of foreigners from Ivory Coast aboard emergency flights organised by France and other countries picked up on Friday after xenophobic chaos spread through Abidjan and other parts of the nation.

PARIS, Nov 12 (AFP) - The exodus of foreigners from Ivory Coast aboard emergency flights organised by France and other countries picked up on Friday after xenophobic chaos spread through Abidjan and other parts of the nation.

A further 770 passengers were scheduled to fly out during the day on two flights chartered by French authorities in addition to the 1,600 French citizens and hundreds of other foreigners who already have left.

About 14,000 French citizens, most of them with dual nationality, were believed to be living in the Ivory Coast when forces loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo went on the rampage against foreigners.

The departing expatriates took with them tales of unchecked violence, machete attacks, rapes and looting, although a Foreign Ministry spokesman here said there had been no reports of murder.

The ministry said it was coordinating with the Netherlands, currently the head of the European Union, in rescuing and repatriating foreign residents.

The French government insists that all the departures have been voluntary and that they do not mark the start of a general evacuation.

However, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, thousands of non-European foreigners have left the country, most of them headed to Liberia and Burkina Faso.

France flew 780 people to Paris in the first evacuation flights on Wednesday, and other emergency flights have been sent by Spain, the Netherlands, Britain and Canada.

About 90 Americans were flown to Madrid early Wednesday aboard a Spanish military aircraft.

When civil war broke out in the Ivory Coast in 2002, the French army evacuated about 3,000 foreigners from 23 nations, most of them French. Moroccan planes sent by King Mohammed VI brought 245 Moroccan nationals home from Abidjan late Thursday and on Friday morning.

Several African countries also evacuated their citizens, and thousands of other Africans fled across the frontiers to Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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