UNHCR concerned by Ivorian conflict

March 21, 2011 at 11:11 AM
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VIENNA, March 21 (UPI) -- There is a great risk of further destabilization in Ivory Coast as thousands answer the call of the incumbent to liberate the country, a U.N. official said.

Thousands of supporters of incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo turned out during the weekend at army bases to enlist. Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees told the BBC the situation there was dire.

"The risks of destabilizing the region are enormous," he was quoted as saying.

Charles Ble Goude, Ggabgo's youth minister, called on supporters to join the fight to "liberate" the country, the BBC adds. The youth minister is under U.N. sanction for inciting violence.

Gbagbo refuses to step down despite a U.N. Security Council resolution recognizing Alassane Ouattara as the president of Ivory Coast. November elections were meant to unite a country divided by war in 2002 but international observers said the post-election crisis is on the brink of civil war.

The United Nations estimates more than 400 people have been killed since November elections. Guterres said at least 90,000 people have fled the Ivorian crisis to neighboring Liberia.

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