Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Scramble to flee Ivory Coast's unrest

It is early in the morning and the sun has only just risen above the the river which divides Liberia from Ivory Coast.

Fighters from Ivory Coast's former rebel group stand along the river bank watching, as hundreds of people packed on to rafts cross the river to reach the safety of Liberia. 
Just 50m (165ft) of water separates the two countries at this crossing point.
Throughout the night, gunfire echoed across the divide. Liberians woke to a rush of refugees scrambling over the river to escape what they fear most - a return to civil war.
One of the men wearing army fatigues and a red beret talks on the phone as he shouts orders to people around him. He looks like he is the one in charge. Another with an AK-47 clasped in his hands stands nearby.  They both head towards a motorbike by the edge of the river bank where a fellow fighter, with a rocket-propelled grenade draped over his shoulder, waits to drive them.

These men belong to the New Forces - the former rebel group from the north of Ivory Coast which is giving its backing to Alassane Ouattara, the man the UN says won November's presidential elections.
But incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down - splitting the country along the same north-south divide that the election was intended to heal.  In 2002, the civil war left the rebels in charge of the north and the government army in control of the south.
To read the full BBC article, click here