Already since the passing of long-term president Gnassingbe Eyadema in February this year, Togo's capital has seen repeated mass demonstrations and violent clashes. Eyadema's son was officially announced the winner of last Sunday's presidential elections; but the opposition has come forward with accusations of electoral fraud. On Tuesday, rioting broke out again, and people are afraid that the situation will deteriorate soon.
All publicly-run and private schools and kindergartens in Lomé have remained closed since 26 March 2005. As the children from the local SOS Children's Village attend publicly-run schools, classes are being organised inside the SOS Children's Village for the time being. The children are not allowed to play too far away from the SOS Children's Village and are not permitted to leave the premises of the SOS Children's Village after 5:30pm for security reasons.
Last week, the SOS mothers bought provisions to last at least for three months to come. Within the context of political crisis, food prices have increased two- to threefold.
According to village director Aurelien Ajavon, an evacuation plan for the SOS Children's Village in Lomé was prepared to confront a possible dramatic deterioration of the situation in the capital. The border with Benin is 50 km away from the village; SOS mothers and children could be evacuated to the SOS Children's Village in Dassa-Zoumé, which is still under construction.
Togo's second SOS Children's Village is located in Kara about 500 km north of Lomé. According to co-workers, the situation in Kara is calm; schools, markets and governmental buildings remain open. "There are no effects on daily life. The children can move freely and without fear within and outside the SOS Children's Village", says SOS mother counsellor Amayi Mariette.