February 25 2011

Children in Côte d'Ivoire to be evacuated from the capital Abidjan

25/02/2011 - The situation in Côte d'Ivoire is becoming increasingly threatening. Due to heavy fighting and prevailing insecurity especially in Abobo, a suburb of the main city Abidjan where an SOS Children's Village is located, the decision was made to evacuate the children and SOS mothers to the SOS Children's Village in Aboisso today, some 110 kilometres east of Abidjan. If the situation deteriorates further, the evacuation of all children to Togo must be considered.

Photo: SOS Archives
A picture from happier days (at the SOS Kindergarten in Abobo) - Photo: SOS Archives

After the presidential elections in November 2010, Paul Gbato, director of SOS Children's Villages Côte d'Ivoire, has repeatedly expressed his hope for a peaceful political solution especially on behalf of the country's young generation. This hope now seems dashed and future developments are unpredictable. Heavy fighting is being reported especially in the suburb Abobo, which many people are already trying to flee. Fighting has also flared up in western parts of the country.

During the past weeks the national office of SOS Children's Villages Côte d'Ivoire experienced more and more difficulties in accessing its bank accounts due to the closing of banks and nationalisation by the government. Ensuring the smooth and safe operation of its programmes especially in Abobo-Gare was rendered nearly impossible. SOS Children's Villages Côte d'Ivoire was able to purchase food supplies for three months and is monitoring the situation very closely.

Photo: SOS Archives
Hermann Gmeiner, founder of SOS Children's Villages, in Abobo-Gare in 1983 - Photo: SOS Archives

The situation around the SOS Youth Facilities in Abidjan (some 100 youngsters are being cared for in different youth houses), the family support programme, the SOS Kindergarten, SOS School and the medical centre remains unclear. Some 100 children are currently being cared for at the SOS Children's Village in Abobo-Gare, which was the first SOS Children's Village in Africa opened in 1971. Large-scale celebrations were scheduled to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. In Aboisso another 100 children are being cared for in SOS families; family support and educational programmes are also operated there.