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U.N’s 13-year peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast ends

The United Nations on June 30, 2017; officially drew the curtain on its peacekeeping mission in the West African country, Ivory Coast.

The United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) was established in 2004 under U.N. resolution 1528. It’s main mission was to monitor and support a peace agreement signed by the Ivorian parties a year earlier.

The U.N. Security Council okayed the deployment of an initial 6,000 peacekeepers to help restore ‘‘state authority’‘ in the country following years of civil war.

As at 2004, the country had been divided by a civil war with the government-held south and a rebel-held north. During the post-election crisis that followed the 2010 presidential elections, some 3,000 nationals were killed with an estimated 300,000 becoming refugees.

What did the UN mission do over their 13-year stay?

The UNOCI’s main responsibilities included protecting civilians, facilitating inclusive political dialogue. They were also tasked with helping government with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants.

Other specific achievements of the the mission included the following:

1. Disarmed 70,000 combatants and re-integrated them into the society.

2. The U.N. helped the return of a total of 250,000 refugees as at 2016.

3. UNOCI supported efforts at social cohesion decreasing the rate of inter-communal by 80%.

4. They supported the organization of 2011 and 2016 presidential polls as well as a constitutional referendum held last year.

5. They helped strengthen the country’s human rights body and as a result helped decrease rights violations. The 2011 figure of over 1,720 was slashed to 88 as at last year according to available stats.

So why is the mission leaving?

Local governance structures have been established across the country – the Ivorian government is now present in all 108 local departments.

According to the UNOCI, it has successfully helped strengthen the security forces of the country to take charge of the duties it previously handled. The Ivorian forces currently stand at 23,000-strong army, gendarmaries (19,000) and 18,000 police.

Address by spokesperson of U.N. Secretary-General on the UNOCI exit

The U.N. chief whiles congratulating the government and people of Ivory Coast also paid tribute to the troops and police contributing countries who were on the mission.

‘‘The Secretary-General is appreciative of the excellent leadership of his Special Representative for Cote d’Ivoire, Aïchatou Mindaoudou, and her predecessors.

‘‘He also pays tribute to all uniformed and civilian personnel who served with UNOCI, and expresses his profound respect for the memory of the 150 peacekeepers who lost their life in the service of peace during the 13 years of deployment of the Mission. He expresses his gratitude to all troop and police contributing countries,’‘ his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on June 29.

Beyond the end of mandate: what next?

The U.N. Country team together with the government and other stakeholders will continue efforts aimed at:

Social cohesion, human rights and transitional justice, security sector reforms, the DDRprogram, defence, security and law enforcement and the restoration of state authority throughout the country.

The country – the world’s largest producer of cocoa and a top producer of cashew has been labeled as one of the continent’s stable post-conflict countries. A set back of sorts was recorded earlier this year with mutinies that threatened to ground economic and human activity in the country.

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