I. Coast's Abidjan at risk of 'rights catastrophe': Amnesty

31st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan faces a "human rights catastrophe" as forces backing Alassane Ouattara prepare to try and take control of the city, Amnesty International warned on Thursday.

"Abidjan is on the brink of a human rights catastrophe and total chaos," said Salvatore Sagues, the rights group's West Africa researcher.

"Ivory Coast is facing a major humanitarian crisis. The parties to the conflict must immediately stop targeting the civilian population," he added.

"The international community must take immediate steps to protect the civilian population."

He added that the "escalation of this conflict and increased reliance on mercenaries and untrained recruits meant there is a huge and immediate risk of massive human rights violations."

Troops backing Ouattara, internationally recognised as president following disputed polls in November, on Thursday reached Abidjan in a bid to oust strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

Fearful residents locked themselves in their homes as Ouattara made a final plea to his rival's soldiers to change sides and the opposition said several generals had defected.

The West African nation was plunged into a bloody crisis following the presidential election, which Gbagbo also claimed to have won despite massive backing for his rival Ouattara from the international community.

© 2011 AFP

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