AFRICA/COTE D'IVOIRE-Hospitality, education and the living of children and young Ivorians to rebuild the country

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Abidjan (Agenzia Fides) –A year after the last armed conflict in Côte d'Ivoire, which caused more than 3 000 deaths and thousands of displaced, 40% of Ivorians, over 8 million people, live below the poverty line. Insecurity, difficulties in literacy, unemployment and other open wounds, complete the current picture of the country. In April 2011, from Duékoué, the Salesian missionary Father Vicente Grupeli, had addressed the international community, launching an appeal to address the humanitarian crisis: "In the mission there is of lack of food, drinking water and medicines and people are afraid to return to their homes. Each day a person dies, and there are 30 000 IDPs gathered in a place that can hold up to 8 000 feet. They sleep on the floor and there are no toilets".
In the courtyard of the mission, during the summer there were still 15 000 people. Currently the Salesians run a school for street children and a professional formation center in Duékoué. In the parish of Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús, where there were over 30 000 refugees, there are now 1,000. The situation is 'normalizing' and, according to the Salesian missionaries the country is trying to return to everyday life. Schools, markets and public services have been opened. However much insecurity and violence persist. Moreover, the living conditions are still inhuman: 40% of the population is unable to meet their food needs and 17% of children are malnourished. 50% of children cannot go to school, and over half of those aged between 15 and 24 can neither read nor write. Finally, about 11 million people live crammed in absolute poverty in the slums of large cities. The main objectives for the reconstruction of the country are reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, and for this reason values such as the training of young people, who are the future of Côte d'Ivoire is fundamental. Equally important is to obtain a fully and social integration rooted in the different ethnic groups, as well as helping the victims most affected, such as families. To try to achieve these objectives, Misiones Salesianas launched the campaign 'Una sopa para la paz', in order not to forget the needs that still exist. The missionaries want to find a 'recipe' to ensure that incidents and situations such as those which happened last year will not happen again. The main ingredients of this rich 'soup' will be hospitality, education and living together, for the greatest number of children and young Ivorians. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 15/3/2012)