The violent conflicts between rivalling parties in Côte d'Ivoire following the disputed presidential elections in November 2010 left hundreds of civilians dead in the western region of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people fled from the violence to neighbouring countries.
Duékoué, a town in the west of Côte d'Ivoire, witnessed the heaviest fighting during the conflict. The clashes have worsened the already precarious living conditions in this area, with children especially at risk. An assessment carried out by SOS staff in Côte d'Ivoire has revealed the urgency of providing comprehensive support to the most vulnerable families in Duékoué. Families and specifically children have insufficient access to education, health care, water and sanitation. Many homes were destroyed by fire and looting in the conflicts, and there is little adequate housing available.
Food insecurity prevails, and despite some food packages being distributed by other organisations, these often do not cover the amount of protein that malnourished children require to regain their health. It is feared that without assistance, parents may be driven to abandon their children out of desperation. Many women who are pregnant or have recently given birth are unable to find adequate medical care for themselves or their new-born babies.
SOS Children in Côte d'Ivoire is therefore starting a one-year programme to improve the health care situation and food security for 800 children, from babies to 17 year-olds, in Duékoué and the surrounding areas. Two hundred parents will also be supported in an effort to strengthen families and prevent child abandonment.
In order to prevent family breakdown and child abandonment, we will offer training on child care, as well as providing financial support to parents to help them to establish their own small businesses to support their families financially. In order to ensure families have a safe place to live, we will help them to meet the costs of reconstructing or repairing their damaged or destroyed homes.
The conflict has left many children traumatised by the violent events they have experienced. SOS Children will assist in strengthening psycho-social care with a special focus on traumatised children, to help them to come to terms with their experiences and return to some sense of normal life.
SOS Children have been working in Côte d’Ivoire since 1969. We have two SOS Children’s Villages, in Aboisso and in Abobo Gare, both in the south of the country. Due to heavy fighting and prevailing insecurity in the surrounding area of the Abobo Gare Village during the clashes, children and young people were evacuated to the Aboisso Village early this year. It is expected that the situation will be safe enough to allow them to return in August. SOS Children will also provide a new home to those who have lost their parents in the conflict, and have already been approached to take in 20 more orphaned children. Find out more about our work in Côte d’Ivoire.