June 17 2004
Situation around SOS Children's Village Bukavu improves
17/06/2004 - Two weeks after the attempted coup in Bukavu (Democratic Republic of Congo), suppressed by government troops, the situation in the town is gradually becoming calmer. After three weeks of closure, the SOS Children's Village facilities also went back into operation on Monday.
According to Marthe Kangane, national director of SOS Children's Villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the improved situation meant that the Bukavu office could be reopened on Monday. The same day saw the SOS Medical Centre, Primary School and Kindergarten go back into operation after a three-week closure. Pupils and teaching staff were able to resume normal tuition and the end of the school year has been postponed until 3 July.
Normality is also slowly returning to the family houses in the SOS Children's Village there. The SOS mothers are again able to procure food and everyday supplies, albeit at greatly inflated prices due to the fact that most of the big markets were burnt down during the fighting.
According to the latest reports, five youths who in the face of the fighting had fled to Rwanda have been found by co-workers from SOS Children's Village Gikongoro. They will stay in the village in Gikongoro until they are able to return to Bukavu. Two other youths fled via Bujumbura (Burundi) to the second Congolese SOS Children's Village, in Uvira, 120 km south of Bukavu. As a safety measure, all youths from the SOS Youth House in Bukavu are to be accommodated by their former SOS families.
The fighting in the last two weeks was accompanied by looting, which also affected the SOS Children's Village office. Window panes, doors and locks were taken and towels, soap, telephones, food, etc. were stolen from the youth house. When compared to other international organisations, however, SOS Children's Villages remained relatively unaffected by the raids. Staff on the ground reports that the situation in SOS Children's Village Uvira in the South Kivu crisis region is calm.
Even after the withdrawal of the rebels, an atmosphere of fear prevails among the town's population. A rebel general's threat to recapture the eastern part of Bukavu together with the continuing fighting in Kalehe, 50 km north of Bukavu serve, as before, to feed the insecurity of a population that hopes that finally real peace might arrive after one of the continent's most devastating wars. The security and humanitarian situation in the country's east, with an estimated 3.3 million people in need, however, threatens this fragile peace.