11 November 2004
SOS Children's Villages in Ivory Coast takes precautionary measures
11/11/2004 - Since the situation has increasingly worsened in the Ivory Coast since 5 November, the co-workers in both SOS Children's Villages there have been forced to take measures in preparation for the worst.
The situation has been unstable for the past two years in the West African republic, "not war, not peace", says the director of SOS Children's Villages Ivory Coast, Clotilde Abauleth.
The country is divided since 2002 between a Muslim north controlled by rebels and a Christian south governed by Laurent Gbagbo. UN peace troops tried to secure a peace process which was negotiated in February 2003.
After the death of nine French soldiers and a military strike by French troops against the government forces, there have been strong riots especially in the economic metropolis of Abidjan, close to which lies the SOS Children's Village Abobo-Gare. Foreign governments have begun to get their citizens out of the country as they are targets for attacks.
Already a year ago, as the peace talks were in process, the SOS Children's Villages in Ivory Coast were preparing for the worst. In view of the present situation they have once more had to resort to taking precautionary measures.
SOS Children's Villages carries out projects in two locations: in a Muslim quarter in Abobo-Gare, 15 km away from Abidjan, and in Aboisso, near the border to Ghana. For the time being all educational facilities of SOS Children's Villages will remain closed until November 16.
In both locations, food rations and water supply for ten days have been organised, there is a doctor in each of the villages, in case the general availability of medical care falters. Should there be increasing violence putting the lives of the mothers and the children at risk, preparations have been made for an evacuation of the SOS Children's Village Abobo-Gare either to Aboisso or even to Ghana.
The situation around the SOS Children's Villages is still relatively calm. In order to minimize the emotional stress and the fear of the children in this threatening situation, the situation in the country is spoken about with them on the one hand, but it is also attempted to retain a state of normalcy through the use of games and occupational therapy.
SOS Children's Village Abobo-Gare was the first village to be founded in Africa. More than thirty years ago, the village with twelve family houses evolved out of a project to help orphans initiated by French priest "Father Martin". Since then, a kindergarten, primary school, a youth facility and a social centre for HIV/AIDS affected families have been added to the village.
In 1980 the SOS Children's Village co-workers in Côte d'Ivoire became aware of an unusual social problem among the people from the Aboisso region in the south-east of the country. According to a local custom, every tenth child is seen as a bringer of bad luck and expelled from their family. The emergency of these children led to the country's second SOS Children's Village being built. This project has also been supplemented by the addition of a kindergarten, school, youth facility and social centre.