March 3 2011

Côte d'Ivoire: All SOS programmes in Abidjan closed

02/03/2011 - All SOS programmes and projects in Abidjan have been closed for the time being; the children from the SOS Children's Village have been evacuated to Aboisso. The suburb Abobo, where all the SOS projects are located, has been the scene of fierce fighting during the past days. According to recent media reports, the violence is spreading to the southern suburbs of Abidjan. Hostilities have also been reported from other parts of the country.

Photo: SOS Archives
The children from Abobo are currently attending lessons at the SOS School on Aboisso - Photo: SOS Archives
All children, SOS mothers and family assistants were evacuated on 26 February to the SOS Children's Village in Aboisso, some 110km east from Abidjan, as were all youths in the care of SOS Children's Villages in Abidjan. The school, kindergarten, medical centre and family support programmes were also closed until further notice. Even the office of SOS Children's Villages Côte d'Ivoire will move to another safe district in Abidjan.

Since the presidential elections in last November, the situation in Côte d'Ivoire has become more and more unstable as president Gbagbo refuses to acknowledge his opponent Alassana Ouattara as legitimate winner of the poll. Since then clashes between the rivalling parties have become increasingly violent. In the past days the northern pro-Ouattara suburb of Abobo has seen particularly heavy fighting. Meanwhile, the violence seems to be spreading to southern suburbs of Abidjan and there are fears that the civil war, officially ended in 2005, will flare up once more, even though the political situation has been unstable before.

The SOS Children's Village in Abobo-Gare was the first of its kind to be opened in Africa. This year it is celebrating its 40th anniversary together with SOS Children's Villages in another 44 African countries. Whether there is cause for celebration remains to be seen in the coming days, weeks and months. Everyone at SOS Children's Villages in Côte d'Ivoire hopes for peace for all the country, especially the children, for they have suffered enough from the long-lasting impact of civil war and political crisis.