Land disputes feed Ivorian violence

Oct. 10, 2013 at 11:22 AM
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Communal tensions in Ivory Coast remain problematic more than two years after post-election violence because of land disputes, Human Rights Watch said.

Ivory Coast was pushed to the brink of civil war following disputed presidential elections in 2010. Violence abated when former President Laurent Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011, though problems remain.

Human Rights Watch published a 111-page report Wednesday highlighting the country's ongoing security problems. It said Ivorians who fled the violence in the west of the country have returned home to find their land was taken from them.

"Land conflict is at the heart of Ivory Coast's decade of grave human rights abuses," Matt Wells, head of West Africa research at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Wednesday.

The report said western Ivorians can't farm their land for cash crops like cocoa, one of the country's premier commodities. This, in turn, has feed a cycle of violence because of mounting communal tensions, the rights group said.

"If the Ivorian government is serious about ending the recurring violence in the western part of the country, getting people back on their land should be a top priority," Wells said.

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