Ivory Coast Requests US Assistance Against France

The Ivory Coast, a country usually filled with peace, has been experiencing bloodshed and violence over the past few weeks, due to an ongoing civil war.

On November 6, air strikes killed nine French peacekeepers and an American.  French forces then wiped out Ivory Coast’s air force and thousands of Gbagbo loyalists triggering rioting and looting.

More than 9,000 foreigners and thousands of Ivorians have fled to neighboring countries.  As refugees crossed into Liberia, U.N. helicopters and peacekeepers brought grain, oil, and beans to Butuo.  This was the first aid received on Sunday, but according to U.N. officials, 50 tons of emergency supplies were expected to land by Monday.

The fighting began in 2002 after a failed coup attempt.  A coup is a sudden and decisive change of government, illegally or by force.  President Laurent Gbagbo, reopened the two-year old war against rebels on November 4, sending out his newly formed air force on bombing raids against the insurgent-held north.

Local official, Albert Farnga, said that local people were doing all that they could to help the refugees, emptying their food and water stocks to feed the hungry.  The villagers had been reduced to stripping rice out of the fields before it was ready for harvest “to save our brothers and sisters,” said Farnga.

Western diplomats privately question whether each side, the French and the Ivorians, are willing to make peace, unless outside powers come in and leave them no other choice.  President Gbagbo has asked the United States to step in, but U.S. officials say they will not take over France’s role

The world’s top cocoa producer, West African site of two key ports and the home of millions of guest workers from impoverished neighboring countries, the Ivory Coast is an important economic location.