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The Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire Continues

February 28, 2011

While the world’s attention has been focused on Tunisia and Egypt and other Arab countries, the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire has receded from the news, but it remains completely unresolved.  Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouatarra have not met together, and with the support of their respective camps, each continues to lay claim to the Presidency of the country.

It is within this context that Search for Common Ground continues to do its work.  SFCG began working in Côte d’Ivoire in 2005 with the primary goal of reducing tensions by providing space for dialogues on key issues, helping communities engage in constructive cooperation, and strengthening social cohesion by increasing local capacity to resolve conflicts non-violently and SFCG continues to play this role today. SFCG media teams are calming tensions, promoting moderate voices, and providing accurate information where rumors and manipulation are rampant.

Despite considerable challenges, the team in Abidjan has succeeded in keeping most of their radio programs on the air, continuing to provide credible and balanced information to the Ivoirian population.  SFCG’s radio programs are a major source of impartial information because most other media sources in the country are identified with one political side or the other.

At the heart of Côte d’Ivoire’s conflicts is the issue of belonging.  Who is, and who is not, Ivoirian.  Immigrants with longtime roots in the country are still called “foreigners.”  Identity and citizenship are directly connected to land ownership, with resulting conflicts over land and who has the rights to own land.   Historically, the  most violent flashpoints have been in 8 communities along the north-south border.  Earlier, we wrote about the work SFCG has been doing in these areas with community, religious, youth, and women leaders – to increase their capacity for leadership, helping to sensitize their communities away from violence.  Even during this current political crisis, these communities have reported a decrease in tensions and violence and have acknowledged SFCG’s role in helping to make the positive difference.

We cannot predict how and when the political impasse in Côte d’Ivoire will be resolved, but we recognize the dedication of our Ivoirian staff, the loyalty of the millions of listeners to our radio programs, and the commitment of the many hundreds of people with whom we work — all of whom want to live in peace and prevent their country from backsliding into civil war.

Find out more about our work in Côte d’Ivoire here.

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