New York - Ivory Coast asked the United Nations on Tuesday to monitor
its border with Liberia with drones to make up for the expected decline in the
global body's presence in that country.
Should a planned withdrawal of UN peacekeepers go into
effect, Ivory Coast is seeking "the deployment of qualitative resources
such as surveillance drones in the border area", said the country's UN
envoy, Youssoufou Bamba.
At the end of March, the UN Security Council had authorised
the use of drones in the Democratic Republic of Congo to monitor that country's
borders with Rwanda and Uganda - a first for a peacekeeping mission.
Several Council members had at the time insisted that the
move did not set a precedent.
The United Nations foresees reducing its roughly 9 000-strong
operation in Ivory Coast, known as UNOCI. Discussions with the Ivory Coast
government are ongoing.
"I would like to indicate that the Ivory Coast
government believes that the current level is good," Bamba said during a
Security Council debate on the situation.
Several Liberian army units were deployed to border posts
between the two countries last year to counter armed gangs raiding the Ivorian
side from Liberia.
The groups have targeted western Ivory Coast since the end
of the country's 2010-2011 crisis, which left 3 000 dead in the wake of a
disputed presidential election. In one attack in June 2012, seven UN
peacekeepers lost their lives.
The UN assistant secretary general for peacekeeping
operations, Edmond Mulet, said "security in the border regions with
Liberia saw a significant improvement."
He also cited "reinforced co-operation between Ivory
Coast and Monrovia" on the issue but recalled two cross-border attacks
sustained by Ivory Coast in March.
The Ivory Coast government has "made significant
progress since February 2012 and especially during these past months in regards
to the general security situation but the recent instability in the west of the
country along the border with Liberia shows the fragility of the
situation," he said.
Mulet stressed it was "important to pave the way to
political reconciliation" and expressed concern about "reports on the
presence of mercenaries and ex-combatants along the border with Liberia"
as well as "continued human rights violations by formal and informal
security agencies with impunity".