UNITED NATIONS – U.N. relief workers are returning to Ivory Coast (search) two weeks after widespread protests forced about 9,000 other foreigners to evacuate, the United Nations (search) said Wednesday.
A small number of workers went back to Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, on Tuesday and more were on the way, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement. Most employees fled for Accra, Ghana on Nov. 10, though some essentials workers stayed behind.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) on Wednesday said all sides in Ivory Coast must work together to save their country.
"There is no military solution, so they are obliged by all means to live together and stop the crisis," he said after arriving in Ouagadougo, Burkina Faso, for a summit of French-speaking nations.
Ivory Coast, once one of West Africa's most stable nations, reopened its 2-year-old civil war with bombing raids on its rebel-held north. Two days later, nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker were killed in a Nov. 6 airstrike, prompting France to wipe out the country's modest air force.
That sparked massive anti-French and anti-foreigner riots and forced about 9,000 foreigners to evacuate, including most humanitarian workers.
Now that Ivory Coast has calmed, the United Nations will send teams to assess where aid is needed most. They are expected to go to Guiglo, where thousands of refugees are in camps, and Bouake, a rebel-held city where Ivorian government supporters have disappeared or been detained.
The weekend summit in Ouagadougo is expected to adopt a statement that backs international peacekeeping in Ivory Coast, said Jerome Bonnafont, a spokesman for French President Jacques Chirac.
About 10,000 peacekeepers — 4,000 French and 6,000 from the United Nations — are helping to secure the volatile country.