Despite Alassane Ouattara being recognised as victorious by the United Nations and the international community, the president of ten years, Laurent Gbagbo, is refusing to step down from power.
The majority of the violence has been concentrated in the capital Abidjan, in the south of the country. Despite the African Union ordering Gbagbo to give up his position, he has remained defiant and is accused of ordering the targeting of civilians in areas populated by Ouattara supporters in a bid to hold onto power. In retaliation, groups determined to see Ouattara take his place as president have been accused of retaliating by killing Gbagbo supporters. The current conflict is also indicative of existing tensions between the populations in the North and South of Côte d'Ivorie which resulted in the Civil War lasting from 2002 to 2004.
In recent weeks the situation has deteriorated even further. The failure of this election and existing deep religious and cultural divides still prevalent in the country have raised concerns that a second Civil War may be inevitable. Already, at least 1,300 people have been reported dead (although the actual death toll is likely to be much higher) and over half a million have been displaced from their homes by violent clashes between the two sides. The United Nations have initiated military action designed to ensure the protection of civilians in the area. 100,000 refugees who have access to transport have fled to neighbouring Liberia, whilst others have been forced to stay behind and take shelter in make-shift refugee camps. Many families have nowhere to sleep and are unable to access enough food or water to meet their needs.
SOS have been working in Côte d'Ivoire for twenty years and have two Children’s Villages in the country, in Abobo-Gare, close to Abidjan, and in Aboisso, further east of the country. In light of the prevailing insecurity in the Abidjan area, SOS have evacuated all children, young people and staff from the Village here to our SOS Village in Aboisso, where the situation is significantly calmer. If the situation gets worse, SOS will consider the evacuation of all SOS families to Togo. Families will only return when it is completely safe for them to do so.
SOS have an established presence in the country and will continue to support children and families in need.