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Switzerland sends a plane to Ivory Coast

Expatriates continue to flee Ivory Coast Keystone

The Swiss government has evacuated 130 people – including 24 Swiss citizens – from crisis-torn Ivory Coast.

This content was published on November 16, 2004 - 21:19

The foreign ministry said a Swiss-chartered plane returned to Switzerland from Abidjan on Tuesday.

The MD 90 with 160 seats left Switzerland on Monday evening on its mission to bring back Swiss citizens caught up in the unrest. The plane also repatriated between 80 and 90 French citizens, as well as other nationalities according to a Basel airport spokeswoman.

More than 50 Swiss had already been repatriated in recent days on board planes sent by France and other countries.

Authorities in the Swiss capital, Bern, say that the embassy in Abidjan had issued a final call to the Swiss colony in the west African country.

Taking risks

They say that those who decide to stay are taking risks because the situation in the country could deteriorate. Around 110 Swiss citizens, most of them dual citizens, have chosen to stay put for the time being.

The foreign ministry says that the embassy in Abidjan – the economic centre of Ivory Coast – will remain open, although with staff reduced to a minimum.

The aircraft carrying out the operation was not empty when it set out from Basel airport.

Apart from a member of the foreign ministry, the plane transported six tons of medicines supplied by the Swiss-led International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Swiss Red Cross also sent enough dressings to take care of up to 3,000 wounded.

One of the complaints about the embassy’s handling of the situation in Ivory Coast was that there had not been enough information or advice.

The Swiss foreign ministry admitted last Saturday that there had been problems with communication but insîsted that Swiss were being informed about the possibilities of leaving the country.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Before the repatriation flight, there were 130 Swiss citizens still remaining in Ivory Coast.
Fifty others have left the country over the past few days on planes sent to Ivory Coast by France and other countries.

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In brief

The last plane sent by the French government to evacuate its nationals left Abidjan on Monday evening.

More than 4,500 foreigners - mainly French - have been evacuated by France since November 10.

About 1,000 other foreigners have left Ivory Coast on scheduled flights.

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