March 16 2011

Côte d'Ivoire: SOS Children's Villages evacuated to Togo

16/03/2011 - Following an ultimatum posed by the African Union to president Gbagbo, the situation in Côte d'Ivoire has become so threatening that the national SOS Children's Villages has decided to evacuate the children in its care to the safety of Togo.

Photo: SOS Archives
320 children and youth on their way to Togo for their safety - Photo: SOS Archives

A total of 250 children and 70 youths from the SOS Children's Village Aboisso and the SOS Children's Village Abobo will be evacuated to SOS Children's Villages Togo by the end of this week. They will be travelling to Togo on two rented buses and be accomodated in SOS facilities there. 

The children of the SOS Children's Village Abobo in Abidjan had previously been moved to the other Ivorian SOS Children's Village in Aboisso, a calm, rural area (see previous reports).

First bus on its way to Togo

The first bus with 234 children, youth and co-workers is expected to arrive in Togo tomorrow, 17 March. 70 people will be put up in the SOS Children's Village Lomé as well as the SOS Medical Centre, which is not yet operational. The SOS Children's Village Kara is to welcome all the youth from Côte d'Ivoire together. Discussions are ongoing with the state authorities of Togo, the UN High Commission for Refugees and UNICEF to find accomodation for the other 164 people arriving on the first bus. The remaining 122 children, youths and co-workers will be brought to safety in the next few days.

45 staff members stay behind to secure programmes

While 36 co-workers of SOS Children's Villages, including the director of SOS Children's Villages Côte d'Ivoire, will accompany the children on this trip, 45 staff members will stay behind to try and ensure that children and families who receive support from SOS Children's Villages are not harmed and that SOS Children's Villages' programmes are not damaged.

Political climate has deteriorated rapidly

The evacuation to Togo had previously been planned as an emergency option, a last resort for the unlikely case that the violence and instability spread from the major cities to the entire country. Unfortunately, the request made by the African Union on 10th March to President Gbagbo to leave the country within the next two weeks has caused the climate to deteriorate rapidly and has made the evacuation a necessity.