Having just returned from her five-nation assessment mission to West Africa, Carolyn McAskie told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York that although President Laurent Gbagbo issued a statement accepting at least the spirit of the Linas-Morcoussis Agreement, “we are currently waiting to see if the rebels will in fact take that as full implementation of the accord and come to the table.””At the moment, they are not yet accepting to come back to the table,” said Ms. McAskie, the Secretary-General’s Humanitarian Envoy for the Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. “We are very concerned about the breakdown of society in the country, and my sense is that even should the peace accord suddenly jump into life, it would take months if not more than a year to stabilize the population and the country.”Recalling that her mission – with stops in Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali – also examined the effects of the Ivoirian conflict on neighbouring countries, Ms. McAskie said the fighting has been characterized by attacks on so-called foreigner nationals of other West African countries living and working in Côte d’Ivoire. “Those people, some of whom have lived and worked in Côte d’Ivoire for generations, have now fled because of the fighting,” she said, adding “we’re talking about 200,000 or 300,000 people, and the numbers are growing.”Ms. McAskie said that even in Government-controlled areas, life was not very easy for Ivoirians. “The current attitudes on the Government side are not acceptable,” she said, recounting troubling incidents highlighted in the report of the recent fact-finding mission to the region by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. Those included attacks on shantytowns, harassment by police and harassment by young vigilantes who had been authorized by the Government for “self-defence” of certain areas.After such a brutal conflict and serious tensions that spread through the whole West African region, there was no guarantee that people would just go back to their homes, she added. “We’ll have to help the country reconstruct a lot of its services.” She said the funding is not where it should be and she will shortly be making a humanitarian appeal for more donor support. Follow-up on the economic impact of the crisis will also have to be undertaken.Meanwhile, in Abidjan, the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, Albert Tevoedjre, has taken up his duties. Yesterday, he held the first follow up committee meeting of the agreement reached among the Ivoirian parties last month in France.
SHANGHAI (AP):Nico Rosberg of Mercedes escaped unscathed from a wild first lap at the Chinese Grand Prix yesterday, and then showed why he’s the driver to beat this year in Formula One (F1).Rosberg started on pole position and led nearly the entire race by a wide margin to extend his perfect start to the season with a third consecutive win and his sixth straight dating back to last season.He becomes just the fourth driver in F1 history to win six straight races, joining Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and Alberto Ascari.Vettel, who collided with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner of the chaotic opening lap, finished 37.7 seconds behind Rosberg in second place, while Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat used an aggressive race strategy to take third only the second podium of the 21-year-old’s career.36-point leadEvery driver who has started an F1 season with three straight wins has gone on to win the title that year. Rosberg now has a 36-point lead over Mercedes team-mate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, but he’s not looking too far ahead yet.”It’s the longest season in F1 history. We have 21 races, so that’s 18 to go,” Rosberg said. “Of course, I’m happy with the way it’s gone and I’m feeling good and the car is there, but I don’t want to say more than that.”Lewis is not many points behind … and he’s as focused and motivated as ever.”It was a weekend to forget for Hamilton, a four-time winner at the Shanghai circuit. First, he got a five-place grid penalty for an early gearbox change and then he was forced to start the race in the back row after an engine problem on Saturday prevented him from setting a time in qualifying.To make matters worse, he also got tangled up in the first-corner accident between Vettel and Raikkonen yesterday, losing a front wing that brought the first of an extraordinary five pit stops in the race and a seventh-place finish.creditable secondVettel worked his way through the field after the collision by running his first 16 laps on super-soft tyres to claim a creditable second.Raikkonen finished fifth after having been knocked to the back of the field by the collision with Vettel.The collision came when Kvyat made an aggressive pass on the inside of Vettel, causing the German to swerve and hit Raikkonen on the outside. An angry Vettel fumed on his radio, “Kvyat’s attack was suicidal. There was no way he could have made the corner with that speed.”Vettel exchanged angry words with Kvyat after the race, but the Russian was unapologetic.”It was a risky move, of course,” Kvyat said. “But these kinds of moves can bring you a podium, so I’m on the podium, (Vettel’s) on the podium, it’s fine. I will keep on risking like this and everyone should expect that.”