Ivory Coast to Expel Cocoa Farmers From Largest Forest Reserve

Top cocoa producer Ivory Coast will launch an operation to expel thousands of illegal farmers from the Goin-Debe forest reserve, the West African nation’s largest, a government spokesman revealed Thursday.

The decision is part of efforts to protect forests in Ivory Coast, which has lost much of its rainforest to agriculture.

 Bruno Kone said after a cabinet meeting in the commercial capital Abidjan that;“We will immediately proceed with the identification of the occupiers of the Goin-Debe forest and the end of the occupations.”

Ivory Coast’s water and forests minister this week said that authorities planned to end illegal farming on protected lands within five years.

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Kone said the operation would involve the deployment of about 1,000 defense and security forces personnel to the western Cavally region, where Goin-Debe is located, for an initial three months.

He said;“There will then be a vast disarmament and security operation in the region.”

The 134,000-hectare Goin-Debe reserve has been at the heart of recent violence between immigrant cocoa farmers and local indigenous ethnic groups.

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