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Displaced Ivorians concern United Nations

Feb. 4, 2011 at 11:22 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Humanitarian agencies working in Ivory Coast are having a difficult time providing assistance for the 18,000 people displaced by conflict, a U.N. official said.

Incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo isn't stepping down despite a U.N. Security Council resolution backing former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara as the winner of last year's presidential election.

The elections were meant to unite a country divided by civil war in 2002 but instead led to political violence that prompted U.N. officials to say the conditions were ripe for genocide.

Kenneth Blackman, a deputy spokesman for the U.N. Operation in the Ivory Coast, said his group has identified around 18,000 internally displaced people in the west of the country and those numbers are expected to rise.

"Humanitarian agencies and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are looking for financing to meet the needs of the internally displaced persons in terms of placements, shelter, water, food, health and protection," he said in a statement.

Gbagbo last month ordered U.N. peacekeepers out of the country as his backers equated Blue Helmets with members of the rebellion.

African leaders have suggested they would resort to military intervention if they can't convince Gbagbo to step aside.

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