Dutch abandon embassy in war-torn Ivory Coast
15 November 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Dutch ambassador to Ivory Coast and three other diplomats were evacuated on Sunday amid ongoing violence in the western African nation.
15 November 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch ambassador to Ivory Coast and three other diplomats were evacuated on Sunday amid ongoing violence in the western African nation.
The Defence Ministry said the embassy was closed on Sunday night until further order and sensitive documents were destroyed. The 16 soldiers guarding the embassy were also evacuated.
The ministry said the evacuees were airlifted by a Hercules transport plane to Ghana and it is intended to return them as quickly as possible to the Netherlands, Dutch public news service NOS reported.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry could not confirm how many Dutch nationals are still in Ivory Coast. Up until Friday, there were about 50 Dutch nationals still there.
The ministry issued a second travel warning on Friday urging Dutch citizens to leave Ivory Coast, but it is not known how many people acted on the alert. A spokesman said the ministry could not guarantee the safety of Dutch nationals still in Ivory Coast.
Between 50 and 60 Dutch nationals arrived home in the Netherlands on Friday at the Eindhoven air base. The four diplomats were taken to a French army base in Abidjan on Sunday afternoon before being evacuated to Ghana later that day.
Ivory Coast is bitterly divided between the rebellious north and the pro-government region in the south of the country. Ivorian armed forces reignited the civil war 10 days ago by breaking a ceasefire and launching air attacks on the north.
French troops attacked and destroyed the Ivory Coast air force last week after nine French UN soldiers died in a government air raid earlier this month. In the ensuing riots, violence was particularly targeted at westerners.
France — which has been accused by Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo of supporting the rebels — and several other nations have evacuated some 4,000 western expatriates since Thursday 11 November.
African leaders have since backed at a summit in Nigeria proposed UN sanctions such as an arms embargo against both the government and rebels in a bid to end the violence.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news