The U.S. Department of State has ordered all non-essential employees of the American Embassy in Abidjan to leave the country, and has curtailed consular functions except emergency services for U.S. citizens. Sending home non-essential personnel is a step the Department does not take lightly. Not only does it disrupt embassy operations, it often poses personal hardship on embassy employees who must stay behind separated from their families. Once the Department has ordered non-essential personnel to leave, they are usually allowed to return only after their security can be ensured. And that can take a long time.
That the Department of State has taken this step is another sign of the serious possibility of increased bloodshed and is part of the context for the UN Security Council resolution prolonging the mandate of UN peacekeeping forces in Cote d’Ivoire despite opposition from Gbagbo.
(Photo: Luc Gnago/ courtesy Reuters)