As fighting rages in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, Pope Benedict XVI’s envoy to that country, Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson is stuck in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.
The Cardinal who has been appointed by the Pope to broker peace in the Ivorian crisis has been unable to enter Ivory Coast because there are no flights to that country as a result of the fight.
Cardinal Turkson is the head of the Vatican’s justice and peace office. The justice and peace office is responsible for promoting the church’s social teachings on justice issues, such as war, the death penalty and human rights.
Information available to ghanabusinessnews.com says, as of Wednesday April 6, 2011, the most senior Catholic clergyman in Ghana has been stuck in Accra for four days unable to get a flight to Ivory Coast.
All major flights to the Ivorian capital have been cancelled and the airport in Abidjan has been closed due to the fighting.
The Pope had said earlier in media reports on the appointment that he was sending the Cardinal to Ivory Coast, to show his solidarity and that of the universal church to the victims of the conflict, and to encourage reconciliation and peace.
Ivory Coast has plunged into chaos following disputed elections in November 2010. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down and handover power to Alasane Ouattara who the international community, led by the UN believes is the winner of the elections.
Gbagbo’s refusal to concede and handover power to Ouattara has led to conflict in that country. As the fighting intensifies there are reports that Gbagbo has been deserted by his close aides and has been holed up in a bunker in his residence which has come under bombardment from forces loyal to Ouattara.
Reports and pictures of the conflict show various types of atrocities being committed by both parties in the war, and these have prompted signals from Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo that perpetrators would face justice for crimes against humanity.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi