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The Story No One is Talking About

Libya deserves all the attention it’s getting. Gadhafi is a criminal and there are horrific things happening in that country right now. But news networks can afford a few words and pictures on Cote d’Ivoire.

For background on the Ivorian crisis, read this post. Gbagbo is still in power. The Libya media diversion has allowed him to unleash violence in Abidjan. Here’s what’s happening right now:

  • Over the past days 29,725 [Ivorians] have fled across the border to Liberia, joining the 40,000 Ivorian refugees already there. (UNHCR)
  • The crisis is degenerating into armed conflict, as commercial capital Abidjan and the volatile west of the country are witnessing gun battles, Reuters reported on Tuesday. (IBT)
  • 8 newspapers have shut down because of police harassment. (Agence France Presse)
  • As relations between Gbagbo’s camp and the UN peacekeeping mission deteriorate, attacks against UN staff by Gbagbo supporters have increased, mission chief YJ Choi told journalists in Senegal on Monday. (Mail and Guardian)
  • 433,296 tons of cocoa are sitting in the port of Abidjan. The country’s economy has come to a halt. (Mail and Guardian)
  • In the Adobo neighborhood of Abidjan: The U.N. said armed men blocked some 60 families without food or water from leaving a church Tuesday, as one man who escaped the violence-plagued neighborhood described “fleeing the smell of the dead.”

    The U.N.’s refugee agency expressed alarm about the dire conditions facing people trying to get out of the Abobo district of Abidjan after days of violence there.

    “There are reports of many dead bodies, buses burned and shops looted, and of young militiamen attacking people inside their homes,” the agency said in a statement.

    One man, Jean Bleou, said Abobo was quickly becoming uninhabitable. Several dozen people have been killed over the past week in bloody clashes.

    “I saw at least seven bodies on my way out,” he said. “We were fleeing the smell of the dead.”(CBS News)

  • In northern Côte d’Ivoire vaccines are going bad, taps are dry and the families of women in labour are ferrying buckets of water to hospital, three days after the government of Laurent Gbagbo ordered power cut in the region. (IRIN Africa)

How is this not getting coverage!?!?

You have to dig to find these stories. The last story, from CBS News, is not on the front page of their website. If you click on the World News tab, and scroll all the way down to the absolute very bottom, underneath the Africa heading, there is a link that reads “UN probing Ivory Coast helicopter report.” One line of text, no pictures, no information alluding to the fact that Cote D’Ivoire may very well be on the brink of civil war. No information on a potential conflict that could destabilize the entire region.

If you follow me on twitter, you will have noticed that many of my recent tweets are tagged with #civ2010. This is the hashtag for the Ivorian election and the ongoing post-election crisis. Twitter is the best place to find information on Cote d’Ivoire right now. You can also stay updated by running a google news search.

Email TV and web sources, tweet them, comment on their facebook pages – let them know you want to know what is going on in Cote D’Ivoire.

There has been an ongoing twitter campaign to get Anderson Cooper’s attention. If you are on twitter, tweet @andersoncooper and let him know you want a story on Cote d’Ivoire. You can also email his show here. He said he was going to “do something about Cote d’Ivoire on Monday,” but his blog still does not feature any info. You will find a story on Charlie Sheen, though.

The situation in Cote d’Ivoire is not going away any time soon. A few news stories aren’t going to stop the crisis, but increased media attention will make it harder for Gbagbo’s security forces to blatantly attack portions of the population.

My friends, below, who I have not been able to get a hold of in three days. Please keep them in your thoughts.

The other 21 million Ivorians, and everyone struggling for freedom somewhere, keep them in your thoughts too.

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{ 22 comments… add one }

  • Ayngelina March 1, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Oh wow Phil I am so sorry. It’s awful how the news grabs onto one thing and ignores everything else until they move onto the next. My thoughts are with your friends.

    • phil March 2, 2011, 2:17 pm

      Thank you Ayngelina

  • Jeremy B March 1, 2011, 3:09 pm

    Great post Phil! Africa is a place in a lot of turmoil right now. Maybe this is a good thing in the long term as it means the conflict and problems means people are standing up for change and awareness can be raised. In the short term, it’s tough to read the plight of some of these people. Hopefully awareness is the key to helping people caught in these struggles.

    • phil March 2, 2011, 2:19 pm

      Awareness might not stop the conflict entirely, but if there is enough media attention, Gbagbo will not be able to get away with what he is doing right now.

  • Linda March 1, 2011, 3:51 pm

    Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times also said he was going to do something on Cote d’Ivoire. This is the first time I’ve been online since I read his tweet saying that, so I don’t now if he has followed up on it. I do know that this story has deserved more attention for a long time. I bumped into a friend from there just yesterday, and happily his family are safe. They are in the capital, and say it’s not as bad as he thought it was from the media, which is not to underestimate the stories, but hopeful that your friends are safe I hope.

  • Woody Page March 2, 2011, 10:41 pm

    I think most all of the media is slanted to favor crisis in nations where we need something like say oil and libya or iraq, iran etc.. Great that you are bringing this to the forefront, I myself had no idea.

    • phil March 3, 2011, 12:10 am

      Woody, there are a lot of factors, but that is surely one. Feel free to spread the word about this – the more awareness the better.

  • Honza March 3, 2011, 9:03 am

    UPDATE: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37667&Cr=ivoire&Cr1=

    UN apologizes for falsely accusing Belarus for breaking the embargo.

    • phil March 3, 2011, 10:55 am

      Honza, thanks. Removed link.

  • Honza March 3, 2011, 9:33 am


    433,296 tons of cocoa are sitting in the port of Abidjan. The country’s economy has come to a halt. (Mail and Guardian)

    link is wrong I think

  • Amy March 3, 2011, 4:42 pm

    It’s really sad when major and tragic things like this are going on and they don’t get the coverage they should. My aunt lives in Nigeria and there is stuff that goes on their that we only hear from her. Sadly, most Americans want stories like Charlie Sheen and the latest gossip. Thanks for getting this story out there!

    • phil March 3, 2011, 6:05 pm

      Amy thank you for the comment! Please spread the word! Where does you aunt live in Nigeria?

      • Amy March 3, 2011, 6:19 pm

        They move between Lagos and Yola. Luckily, they’re able to move to the other city if their are problems or tension and she’s been there safely since about 1992.

        • phil March 4, 2011, 12:31 am

          Lagos <> Yola, wow that is a long trip it seems like. Have you visited her?

          • Amy March 4, 2011, 1:01 am

            Yeah, I guess it is quite a drive, but my aunt is a teacher and they take the trip only on school holidays, I think. I haven’t visited them yet. I just spent the last 20 months in Europe with two weeks in Egypt and that was as close as I’ve been. It’s quite far from Seattle (where I am now) and I’m going to China in April to work for a year, so then I’ll be a little closer… but still pretty far away! It’s just a difficult (and expensive) place to get to and when I go I really want to make use of my time and find the best weather (I’m a cool rain Seattle girl). 🙂

  • phil March 5, 2011, 4:40 pm

    I hear you on difficult and expensive. I’m sure you’ll make it there one day though.

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