Liberian mercenaries hope for work in Ivory Coast

Sat Jan 1, 2011 8:10am GMT

Worries are rising that any escalation of the Ivorian conflict will spread instability beyond its borders, into a region struggling to recover from three civil wars in a decade.

Human rights groups have said Liberian mercenaries may have played a role in recent street clashes in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, a charge Gbagbo's government has denied.

Ivorians fearing the worst are moving in the other direction, crossing into Liberia as refugees and straining the resources of local populations.

The United Nations said on Thursday it had registered more than 18,000 refugees along the Liberian border.


Jack heads his group of Liberian men, and said walking to Ivory Coast to fight is an economic necessity for many. None carried guns -- hoping they will receive them if they are hired.

"Some of us are not working. We fought for different groups, but many of us that are here fought for Charles Taylor's group," he says. "Our government here disarmed us, but they have refused to take us into the new army."

Another of his group, who called himself Black Car and wore an woman's wig, ends the interview. "Let us move on. These people will tell the world that we are going to fight," he says "We are going on a mission and we need to do all we can to be successful for us to come back to help our families."

Liberia is one of the world's poorest countries, still recovering from its civil war, and the average citizen lives on less than $1 a day.   Continued...

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