Identity and civil war in the Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast is still in the throws of a civil war started in 2002 by northern Muslims who felt that they were being discriminated against by Christians in the south and west. The split in the country is also complicated by the French role as peacekeepers while trying to maintain access to natural resources and private investments. From the BBC website:

The issue of identity was one of the main triggers for the civil war that started nearly four years ago.

The rebels who hold the north say they are regarded as foreigners, but Mr Gbagbo’s supporters in the south fear immigrants will claim citizenship.


Applicants over 13 years of age will have to prove that one of their parents is Ivorian to gain citizenship by appearing before them with two witnesses.

A doctor will also examine each applicant to determine their age.

Doctor, policeman…who do you trust? And we think we have ID card issues in Europe and the US? Here is an example of how an identity card can literally mean life or death in a country rife with nationalism fueled by xenophobia. Ironically, the crisis of who deserves to profit from the country’s bounty has been a boon to neighboring countries who now handle all the diverted trade. The cost of transporting a single truck through the Ivory Coast, due to bribes and other payments for “identity papers”, is now close to half of what a single person will earn in an enitre year.

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