April 14 2006
Critical situation around SOS Children's Village in Chad
14/04/2006 - Yesterday, heavy fighting started in the capital town of N'Djamena between government troops and rebel forces. The local SOS Children's Village is safe. No children or co-workers have been hurt and no material damages have been registered. However, the village is taking precautionary measures in preparation for the worst.
"Gunfire could be heard from the village as the fighting was taking place at about 600m away. Until eleven o'clock, we could still see the smoke which escaped from the gunshots. Since about noon, everything has been relatively quiet and the anxiety of the SOS mothers has dissipated a bit", said Abdelkerim Mahamat, director of the SOS Children's Village in N'Djamena.
The staff members have been told not to leave their homes; nobody should go to work until the situation becomes normal. The children are presently on Easter holiday and many of them are in the village. They will resume classes on 18 April. Markets and government buildings remain open; but safety measures were taken to protect the children, the SOS mothers and other co-workers of the village.
"People must remain together in their family houses. The children are not allowed to leave their family houses and the SOS mothers are not authorized to go shopping in the market. Their needs must be confided to the driver or to me", added the village director. The village has built up stocks for about two weeks in prevision for the worst days.
SOS Children's Villages N'Djamena is located in the Diguel district, (at about 15 minutes from the town centre) and has been running since 2005. It consists of twelve family houses, in addition to a kindergarten with a capacity for 60 children, an SOS Primary School for about 80 pupils and a socio-medical centre offering services to the local community. Preparations for an emergency relief programme are underway, which is to provide traumatised children from the crisis-ridden Sudanese province of Darfur with psychological counselling, as they are living in refugee camps in eastern Chad at the moment.