Amnesty International has urged authorities in Côte d'Ivoire to protect the population as tens of thousands of people were forced to flee heavy gunfire amid intensified fighting across the country.
Clashes between armed commandos and members of the security forces loyal to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo have persisted for several days in the city of Abidjan, leaving many dead.
“The humanitarian crisis in Côte d'Ivoire is being exacerbated by the tens of thousands of people fleeing Abidjan who need immediate protection and assistance,” said Véronique Aubert, Amnesty International’s Africa deputy director.
"Many of those displaced by the fighting, including women and children, are having difficulty finding shelter and some are sleeping in the open air.”
Much of the fighting in Abidjan has been between security forces and an armed group calling themselves the "Invisible Commandos", who claim to be fighting independently.
Residents living in the Abobo neighbourhood of the city told Amnesty International that the clashes have left them without water or electricity.