Commenting ahead of the European Parliament's debate on Ivory Coast in Strasbourg today (6.4.2011), UK Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who is a member of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, said:
"It is time for Laurent Gbagbo to give up his illegitimate and bloody struggle to hang on to power in Ivory Coast. But reports on violence committed by President Alassane Outtara's troops during their 'final offensive' are equally disturbing.
"The International Community must keep a very close eye on developments in Ivory Coast, in particular the refugee situation. Ivory Coast's neighbouring countries have to cope with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the country as a result of the fighting. This is a much larger number of refugees than those trying to enter EU countries from North Africa at the moment.
"It is absolutely essential to support those neighbouring host countries, in particular Liberia, and to offer humanitarian aid to help alleviate the refugees' situation."