Here's an overview explaining the past few decades of the situation in the Ivory Coast from the BBC , just to catch you up on some past events and what's led to the present humanitarian disaster.
Things are falling apart in a big way in as the news comes pouring in. Because democratically defeated President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to leave, the violence has hit a crescendo with as many as 1,000 people reportedly being killed in a frenzied spate of violence. 04/04 The United Nations is warning of a possible bloodbath:
Philippe Hugon, a professor at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations, said the international response to the crisis in Ivory Coast had been weak and contrasted unfavourably with the UN Security Council's actions in Libya.
The United Nations has started to evacuate its staff from Abidjan ahead of a bloody final battle for Ivory Coast's commercial capital that is expected to start today. Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused international appeals to stand down after losing an election last year, has ordered his supporters into the streets to form a "human shield" around him while the forces of Alassane Ouattara, the President-elect, have been massing on the outskirts of the city."We are in the last kilometre of a marathon, the last step, which is always the toughest," UN spokesman Hamadun Touré told The Independent by telephone from Abidjan.
Oatarra's forces need to be held accountable for any bloodshed they spill. He denies any role :Ouattara denies all responsibility for massacre, at this point.
Ten thousand UN peacekeepers have been deployed in the West African nation and hundreds more French troops landed yesterday at Abidjan's airport, which has been under French control since Saturday. Some 1,500 foreigners were under French protection and were being evacuated. Professor Hugon said that Mr Gbagbo's attempts to incite violence against foreigners in Abidjan risked igniting an intercommunal bloodbath in the rest of the country: "The problem in Ivory Coast is not an ethnic problem, or a religious one. The problem is abuse of power and the way that ethnic issues are being exploited."
Since I questioned Ben Rhodes last week about the Ivory Coast situation it appears that the Obama administration is becoming more active. I'm not saying I'm responsible, but it helps to push. Hillary Clinton released this strong statement over the weekend:
Violence in Cote d’Ivoire
We are deeply concerned by the dangerous and deteriorating situation in Cote d’Ivoire, including recent reports of gross human rights abuses and potential massacres in the west. The United States calls on former President Laurent Gbagbo to step down immediately. His continuing refusal to cede power to the rightful winner of the November 2010 elections, Alassane Ouattara, has led to open violence in the streets, chaos in Abidjan and throughout the country, and serious human rights violations. Gbagbo is pushing Cote d’Ivoire into lawlessness. The path forward is clear. He must leave now so the conflict may end. Both parties bear responsibility to respect the rights and ensure the safety of the citizens of Cote d'Ivoire.
We also call on the forces of President Ouattara to respect the rules of war and stop attacks on civilians. President Ouattara’s troops must live up to the ideals and vision articulated by their elected leader. At the same time, we call on the UN peacekeeping mission to aggressively enforce its mandate to protect civilians.
As President Ouattara takes the reins of government, he must prevent his troops from carrying out reprisals and revenge attacks against their former foes. The people of Cote d’Ivoire await and deserve the peace, security, and prosperity he has promised, and that they have for so long been denied.
I'm calling on the administration to get more involved and send aid to Liberia, where thousands of refugees are fleeing to. They desperately need supplies since that country can barely take care of their own population, This influx of Ivorians is a real hardship and they need our help .And if humanitarian reasons are a key to the president's foreign policy then he should see what he can do to curtail the spread of violence ASAP.
Here's what's been happening. Mr Gbagbo has been holed up in Abidjan as he refuses to give up power after he lost the election and that's fueling what's beginning to turn into a very bad situation.
Heavy artillery fire has been heard as the troops fight for key sites including the presidential palace. Four UN soldiers were seriously wounded by Mr Gbagbo's forces on Saturday.
Further details have meanwhile emerged about the deaths of as many as 1,000 civilians in the west of the country. Catholic charity Caritas said they had been shot or hacked to death with machetes in a part of Duekoue, controlled by troops loyal to Mr Ouattara.
There has been fierce fighting outside the presidential palace, the headquarters of state television and the Agban military base on Saturday, with artillery and machine-gun fire echoing throughout the southern city.
Wounded soldiers loyal to Mr Ouattara were seen being rushed to a hospital outside the city, while confident-looking reinforcements headed the other way.
Special forces troops loyal to Mr Gbagbo fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a UN armoured personnel carrier, seriously wounding four peacekeepers carrying out a humanitarian mission, the UN said.
The BBC's Andrew Harding in the capital, Yamoussoukro, say the ferocity of the fighting makes it hard to gauge the ebb and flow of the battle. Tens of thousands of women, men and children have fled fighting in Duekoue since Monday Mr Ouattara's forces say they are preparing for a final push, but they are clearly encountering stronger resistance than expected.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the BBC: "At this time, I strongly urge Mr Gbagbo to step down and transfer power to the legitimately elected president... Mr Ouattara." Once Mr Gbagbo had gone, Mr Ban said he expected Mr Ouattara to begin the process of reconciliation and restore the rule of law.
Here's what scares me.
The west of Ivory Coast has also seen vicious battles between rival militias and ethnic groups. On Saturday, Caritas said its staff had found the bodies of hundreds of people in Duekoue, and estimated that 1,000 may have died.
The killings occurred between 27 March and 29 March in the Carrefour district, which was controlled at the time by fighters loyal to Mr Ouattara, spokesman Patrick Nicholson told the Associated Press.
"Caritas does not know who was responsible for the killing, but says a proper investigation must take place to establish the truth," he said.
Most of the 1,000 peacekeepers based in Duekoue had been protecting about 15,000 refugees at a Catholic mission there, Mr Nicholson added.
The International Committee of the Red Cross put the death toll at about 800, while the UN said more than 330 people were killed as Mr Ouattara's forces took over Duekoue, most of them at the hands of the rebels. However, more than 100 of them were killed by Mr Gbagbo's troops, it added. Tens of thousands of women, men and children have fled the fighting.
The United Nations human rights office says it has received reports of major human rights violations committed by both sides in the conflict.
This terrible massacre, and the gains made by pro-Ouattara forces – who are now in Abidjan, trying to get Gbagbo to surrender – have suddenly caused mainstream, international media to turn their attention to the conflict. Many – including UN Dispatch managing editor Mark Goldberg – believe that this is Ggabgo’s “end game.” While pro-Ouattara forces swiftly took over key positions in the country, they are now encountering resistance from security forces loyal to Gbagbo. He retains control of the official TV station and radio, which continue to send the message that all is well and that Gbagbo has no intention of leaving his post. The presidential palaces are also under Gbagbo’s forces control.
I'll keep you posted.