HL Deb 04 November 2002 vol 640 cc72-3WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What they consider to have been the causes of the current violence in the Ivory Coast; whether these were preventable; if so, who should have attempted to prevent the causes of violence; and whether they have identified measures, either internal or external, that are likely to lead to permanent solutions. [HL6101]

Baroness Amos:

The immediate cause of the current violence in Cote d'Ivoire was a mutiny by factions of the military unhappy at the Government's proposed terms for their discharge. The underlying causes are not yet fully apparent, but it seems clear that divisions between those of Ivorian descent and immigrants explain, in part, the popular support the rebels have received in parts of the country.

These divisions have existed for a number of years and were the cause of a coup in 1999 and attempted coups in 2000 and 2001. Since 2001 the Government of Cote d'Ivoire have sought to address them through a process of national reconciliation.

In the current crisis the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) took the lead in arranging a ceasefire between the Government and the rebels. In line with our goal of supporting African solutions to African problems, Her Majesty's Government have provided support for Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS.

French troops are now acting as a buffer force between the two sides while an ECOWAS monitoring force is prepared. A solution to the crisis requires dialogue between the Government and the rebels, a negotiated settlement and a resumption of efforts towards national reconciliation.

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their most recent assessment of the humanitarian and security situation in Ivory Coast; and what support they are giving to efforts to achieve an improvement in the situation there.[HL6189]

Baroness Amos:

We have not conducted an independent assessment of the humanitarian impact of the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire.Representatives from our Embassy in Abidjan have met with several relief agencies. These agencies say that the current situation in Cote d'Ivoire is not a major humanitarian crisis, but large numbers of people are suffering and there is a potential impact on neighbouring countries. The UN is preparing an assessment of likely humanitarian needs and we expect it to issue an appeal for funds soon.

We are working closely with the international community to bring about a swift and peaceful resolution to the crisis. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is facilitating discussions between the government and the rebels. ECOWAS plans to send a monitoring force to replace the French troops who are providing a buffer force between the two sides. The UK has provided a military adviser to assist ECOWAS in its efforts and we are now considering further support for a monitoring force.