Cablegate: Cote D'ivoire: Addressing Protection Concerns

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.






E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) The International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) is conducting training sessions for militia groups,
as well as the National Armed Forces of Cote d'Ivoire
(FANCI) and the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN)
in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Geneva
Conventions. Protection of civilians in the Zone of
Confidence continues to decline. UNICEF has recently
expanded its work with children associated with armed
forces (CAAF), opening a center in Man, in addition to the
existing center in Bouake. Young CAAF girls experience
particularly difficult reintegration challenges. Rates of
pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections are high
among young girls in the west. The U.N. Mission in Cote
d'Ivoire (UNOCI) troops are charged with the mandate of
protecting civilians under imminent threat under U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1528, however the fulfillment
of that mandate has been disappointing and confusing to
many in the humanitarian community. Clarification
regarding UNOCI's capabilities in this respect, especially
in and around the Zone of Confidence, would be helpful.
There is an overall lack of coordination in the protection
sector. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is probably best placed to take
on this task. End Summary.

2. (U) USAID/DCHA/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster
Assistance (OFDA) Principal Regional Advisor (PRA) visited
Abidjan February 13-19 to follow up on the protection
issues discussed in reftel. She met with the ICRC, several
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and U.N. agencies, as
well as the Human Rights Division Chief of the UNOCI to
understand better what is currently being done to address
the multitude of protection concerns that permeate the
country and continue to worsen. What follows is an array
of measures that are being taken to address various
protection issues. It is by no means an exhaustive

--------------------------------------------- --------
Combatants Training in International Humanitarian Law
--------------------------------------------- --------
3. (SBU) Following the violence that occurred in Abidjan
in November 2004 and ICRC's inability to access some of the
injured, it began training sessions with various militia
groups in IHL and the Geneva Conventions, including the Red
Cross/Red Crescent's role in a conflict zone. The ICRC
specified that human rights training is not included. In
Abidjan, attendees have included the Jeunes Patriots (JP)
and the FESCI, a student's organization. ICRC said it had
not yet been successful in engaging the Group of Patriots

for Peace (GPP), another militia group based in Abidjan.
ICRC is also holding the same trainings in Guiglo, in the
west, and in Gagnoa, located in the south, where ICRC
recently opened an office due to the growing protection
concerns in the area.

4. (U) There is general agreement among the humanitarian
community that the number of militias is growing while the
government's ability to control them is declining. During
the second week of February, Ble Goude, the leader of the
JP, visited Guiglo, Tai (south of Guiglo), Toulepleu,
Douekue, and Blolekin. He held rallies in each town,
traveling by helicopter. On 28 February, the ceasefire was
violated near Logouale, south of Man, by a militia group
called the Ivoirian Movement for the Liberation of the West
Cote d'Ivoire (MILOCI). Most of the 15,000 displaced that
fled to the Duekoue area after the Logouale incident have
yet to return to their home villages. Reconciliation
efforts have been difficult and tense, reports the U.N.
The growing number of arms in the west is also cause for

5. (SBU) For years, the ICRC has been conducting the same
kind of sessions with the FANCI. According to ICRC, the
FANCI is updating its manual for soldiers and is planning a
training seminar to review it. It has asked the ICRC to
participate as an advisor in the review of the manual.
FANCI's Chief of Staff Colonel Mangou himself made the

6. (SBU) The ICRC began similar sessions in Bouake for the
FAFN after the conflict began in 2002. The training occurs
regularly in Bouake and has begun in Korhogo and Man, as
well. Initially, the FAFN were composed of many former
members of the FANCI so there was some awareness of ICRC
and the responsibilities of belligerents in an armed
conflict. As time has passed, however, the FAFN command
and control has declined and with it has come a
deterioration in behavior. The FAFN recently reorganized
and increased the number of zones in the north in an effort
to address its problems. The ICRC delegations in Man and
Bouake are also trying to engage the Dozo, traditional
hunters and fighters.

7. (SBU) ICRC is currently in discussions with the police
and the Ministry of Security about how to develop a
training-of-the-trainers program for police, which would be
a similar program encompassing IHL and the Geneva
Conventions. It has already begun the same training with
the gendarmes.

8. (SBU) Even though visiting jails is part of ICRC's core
mandate, the delegate told the PRA that ICRC is paying
special attention to what is happening in the jails these
days - in the north, as well as the south - as such visits
provide openings for discussion about the behavior of

Protection in the Zone of Confidence
9. (SBU) The Zone of Confidence (ZC) presents its own
challenges as it is not clear who is legally in charge of
the zone. The western part of the ZC is the most insecure
area of the country. There is no civil administration and
no judicial system in the ZC, and UNOCI does not have the
legal authority to take charge of law and order, however
this is not understood by all. On 31 March, UNOCI issued a
press statement saying that it is under constant
solicitation to solve human rights violations in the ZC,
which underlines the urgency to accelerate the return of a
civil administration.

10. (U) Once a week, ICRC staff makes a tour in the west
and in the western part of the ZC. Their continued
presence, along with other humanitarian organizations,
serves as a protection measure. The ICRC is also working
in the north with the National Red Cross in teaching them
how to tend to the wounded.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Protecting Children Associated with Armed Forces (CAAF)
--------------------------------------------- ---------
11. (U) UNICEF has been working in Bouake to demobilize
children since October 2003. On 19 February, it expanded
its program to Man, after two postponements due to renewed
violence. The official launch followed a weeklong series
of training workshops for some 50 civilian and military
partners, including 17 women, in the Man/Danane area.
UNICEF's Prevention, Demobilization and Reinsertion (PDR)
program will function initially through two Transition and
Orientation Centers (TOCs) in Man for the demobilization
and reinsertion of children associated with armed forces
(CAAF), including girls. A TOC for girls already existed
in Man and currently is providing care for some 70 girls,
and eight of their children. There are also four TOCs in
Bouake - two for boys and two for girls. UNICEF relayed
that the girls are especially stigmatized as many of them
have had children with soldiers and some also are HIV

12. (U) With its partners International Rescue Committee,
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Save the
Children Alliance, and the U.N. Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UNICEF hopes to create a
common front for advocacy to end the use and/or implication
of children in regular and irregular paramilitary and
political groups. UNICEF admits it is a daily struggle.
In addition, UNICEF partners closely with several national
NGOs, as it tries to augment the capacity of local groups
to address these issues.

13. (U) Save the Children/UK (SCF/UK) is also working with
CAAF. SCF/UK has identified 27 villages in the two major
departments in the west (Moyen Cavally and 18 Montagnes)
where there are a number of CAAF. It is currently working

in fourteen of the 27 villages (with ECHO funding) and is
looking for funding for the other thirteen to assist in the
reintegration process. Demilitarized children face special
problems in reintegration, says SCF/UK, especially those
who were working with the FAFN and return to a government-
controlled village or girls who were "wives" of commanders.
SCF/UK assists in tracing, and in providing non-formal
education, including literacy, and recreational activities.
It also works with each village to form a protection
committee to help change attitudes towards these children.

Young Girls at Risk
14. (U) The rates of pregnancies and sexually transmitted
infection (STI) remain high, particularly in the west, even
though SCF/UK does report a small diminution in the rates
over the last few months. Working in and around Blolekin
(west of Guiglo), SCF/UK reports in the six months between
August and January it received 716 pregnant women in its
pre-natal clinic. 39 percent of them were younger than age
19. Of this 39 percent, 74 percent of them were
experiencing their first pregnancy, 13 percent were in
their second pregnancy, 10 percent in their third
pregnancy, and 3 percent were already mothers of three
children, not yet 19 years old, and in their fourth
pregnancy. Twenty seven percent of the young pregnant
girls also had one or more sexually transmitted infections
(STIs). STIs rank as the number three problem in SCF/UK's
mobile clinics, just below malaria and acute respiratory

UNOCI's Protection of Civilians
15. (U) The PRA also met with the Chief of UNOCI's Human
Rights (HR) Division to discuss its efforts in protection.
Under U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1528 of 27
February 2004, which established the UNOCI operation under
Chapter VII, UNOCI was given the mandate of protection for
U.N. personnel, institutions, and civilians under imminent
threat. Section 6.i. of UNSC 1528 states, " . . . without
prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of
National Reconciliation, [UNOCI is] to protect civilians
under imminent threat of physical violence, within its
capabilities and its areas of deployment."

16. (U) The PRA was interested in discussing this section
of the mandate with UNOCI as several humanitarian
organizations have expressed frustration that UNOCI is not
doing enough to protect citizens. As described in reftel,
in late December there was an incident in the ZC where a
UNOCI contingent was 500 meters from a village that was
attacked and rather than responding themselves, it called
for the French Licorne force to assist. The attackers
killed a villager that worked for an international NGO and
accused the NGO of providing arms to the other side.

17. (SBU) The HR chief explained that his office works
closely with UNOCI's civilian police unit, but does not
report to the military. After some investigation in his
office of the U.N. documents supporting UNOCI's mission,
the chief clarified that the civilian protection mandate
comes under the troops' authority and does not come under
his division or that of the civilian police. His HR
officers investigate the numerous allegations of human
rights abuses, such as the FAFN's new effort for
fundraising: kidnapping several villagers and holding them
for ransom. Responding to attacks on villages or
individuals rests with UNOCI troops.

18. (U) The last eight words of the quoted mandate above in
para 15 are critical to note. If an UNOCI contingent does
not feel it has the capabilities to respond, it may either
call the French Licorne (which may or may not be close) or
do nothing. Nor does UNOCI have the mandate to respond
unless the threat to civilians is imminent. This crucially
conditional response-however understandable--needs to be
clarified for all humanitarian aid workers in CI so that
their expectations are lowered about UNOCI's actions, or
lack thereof, as confusion still exists on this point. It
is also confusing for the frightened villagers who may have
an UNOCI post nearby. And the misunderstanding adds
tensions to an already tense atmosphere.

19. (U) The lack of response from UNOCI has a
reverberating effect on the citizens' confidence in the
overall security situation. The less confident they feel,
the less likely they are to walk to their fields to plant,
to go to market, or to go to a health center, which has a
long-term detrimental effect on their food security and
general welfare.

20. (U) Lastly, a critical gap is a lack of coordination
in the protection sector. As seen above, various
organizations are trying to do their part, but no one is
identifying gaps, asking particular organizations to try to
address certain problems, or looking at the entire fabric
of protection problems. As readers can see, the landscape
is vast, and many issues have not been addressed in this
cable. Even ICRC lamented the poor coordination and lack
of action in this sector.

21. (U) OCHA is the most likely candidate to fill this
role, as it is doing the same in other countries, such as
Sudan. (Note: OCHA head Besida Tonwe works closely with
Deputy SRSG/Humanitarian Coordinator/UNDP chief Abdoulaye
Mar Dieye, who oversees the entire UN humanitarian
operation in Cote d'Ivoire. End note.) OCHA is already
chairing protection meetings in Abidjan where information
is shared, but much more is needed. OCHA recently filled
the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Advisor post that
had been vacant for months. It is hoped that this person

will also assume responsibility for protection issues-not
only for IDPs, but also for all Ivoirians and third country
nationals that have been targets of violence-and vigorously
pursue appropriate actions. End comment.

Parting Shot
22. (U) As a poignant reflection of how sensitive and
upside down some issues have become in Cote d'Ivoire,
UNICEF relayed that some Ivoirian government authorities
questioned UNICEF's promotion of birth certificates for all
children, accusing it of being a ploy to engender Ivoirian
nationality for third country nationals.


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