Ivorian disarmament campaign ramps up

Feb. 2, 2012 at 10:39 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Every weapon collected in Ivory Coast as part of a disarmament campaign brings the country closer to national reconciliation, a U.N. official said.

The U.N. mission in Ivory Coast, known by its French initials UNOCI, began a voluntary disarmament operation in the suburbs north of Abidjan. The campaign is part of a broader effort that began in June.

Ndiaga Diagne, UNOCI's deputy director for disarmament, said every gun collected was a benefit to the Ivorian people. He said an estimated 1,000 weapons were collected so far during the campaign.

"I appeal to UNOCI so that those who have already laid down their arms can quickly benefit from these measures so that it may encourage others to do the same," he said in a statement.

Bert Koenders, U.N. special envoy to Ivory Coast, told the U.N. Security Council last month that while the situation in the country was improving, "the root causes of instability and potential triggers of violence have remained."

Ivory Coast was pushed close to civil war following contested presidential elections in November 2010. Former President Laurent Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of committing crimes against humanity, though human rights groups believe both sides to the conflict likely committed atrocities.

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