February 6 2008

SOS Children's Villages Chad not affected by fighting

06/02/2008 - The situation remains unstable in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, where heavy fighting between rebels and governmental troops ceased on Monday morning. The children living in the SOS Children's Village in N'Djamena are safe. The facilities have not been damaged.

According to the village director of SOS Children's Village N'Djamena, Abdelkérim Mahamat Abdelkérim, there is a general feeling of fear in the city. Many people have died in the streets and there is a great deal material damage, most visibly, burnt-out vehicles. SOS Children's Village N'Djamena is currently in a good condition and not affected by the conflict. No children or co-workers have been wounded and the SOS Children's Villages facilities have not been damaged. The children and the SOS mothers have been asked to stay inside the village as it is still unsafe to move around the city. Although people are still afraid, SOS mothers and aunts are calm enough to assist the children in dealing with the situation. The security of SOS Children's Villages' facilities has been strengthened through an increase of security forces in the vicinity of the village.

As far as basic necessities are concerned, the SOS mothers and the village director have stocked up on essential supplies such as soap, food and fuel, expected to last at least fifteen days. "If the situation worsens, I will appeal for assistance from international humanitarian organisations here, so that we can evacuate the children to the Cameroonian town of Kousseri, about 50 km from the Chadian capital", Abdelkérim Mahamat Abdelkérim added.

Fighting started on the morning of 1 February after rebels entered the capital N'Djamena from Chad Eastern border with Sudan. Although the situation is becoming calmer, people are still crossing from Chad into neighbouring Cameroon and Nigeria. According to latest news, up to 20,000 people have crossed the river border with Cameroon in the past four days and arrived in the town of Kousseri, while more than 3,000 other refugees have fled to Nigeria.

SOS Children's Village N'Djamena is located in the Diguel district at about 15 minutes from the town centre. The organisation has worked in Chad since 2005 and currently serves people through a kindergarten, an SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School, a social and medical centre offering services to the local community as well as the community of the village and a family strengthening programme for vulnerable children. In August 2006, SOS Children's Villages founded an emergency relief programme in the Eastern Chad. The SOS Emergency Relief Programme supports refugee children traumatised by the Darfur war.