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U.N. assessing situation in Ivory Coast

Nov. 28, 2012 at 10:34 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A U.N. rights official said he embarked on a six-day mission to assess the human rights situation in Ivory Coast amid lingering concerns of instability.

Ivan Simonovic, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights, said he was in the West African country to discuss the security situation there with authorities.

"I hope to discuss with governmental authorities, civil society, the victims and other actors what needs to be done to prevent a deterioration of the situation, to strengthen the protection of civilians, prevent further atrocities and improve the human rights situation in general," he said in a statement.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast reported in June that its forces were attacked by unidentified assailants while on patrol near the Liberian border. The mission said an undetermined number of Ivorians were killed along with seven members of the peacekeeping unit.

Ivory Coast last year was pushed to the brink of civil war following disputed presidential elections meant to unite a country divided by earlier conflict. Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo is on trial at the International Criminal Court for war crimes, though both sides are accused of committing atrocities.

Human Rights Watch, in a report last week, said military forces were responsible for human rights abuses during a military crackdown last summer.

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