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1/7/2011 - Spain - 15,000 refugees still in the Salesian mission in Duekoué
(ANS – Madrid) – Yesterday the Madrid Mission Office - Misiones Salesianas – issued a statement drawing attention once again to the situation in the Ivory Coast and inviting international organisations to invest in the future and in reconciliation.

There are still 15,000 refugees in the Salesian mission in Duekoué. Through the Madrid Mission Office, the Salesian missionary César Fernández points out that the situation has not been resolved. There are houses, burned, destroyed; everywhere one sees the signs of the violence of the conflict: with many bullet marks and the people wandering about with a lost look on their faces, often hopeless.

The United Nations’ Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) has now produced a plan to create a refugee  camp with all the necessary hygienic and health conditions as the “Misiones Salesianas” asked for in the month of March.

Nonetheless as the missionaries in Duékoué explain many do not want to leave the mission for fear of reprisals. More than 400 families, in just the Carrefour district of Duékoué, have lost their homes and property and do not know where to go. The mission is still being protected by the (UNOCI) - United Nations Operation in Côte d`Ivoire).

In the next few days it is hoped to move some of the refugees. “It is expected that 800 people will leave the mission, but it will take more than five months to return to normality”  the missionaries say. At present the vocational training centre of the mission has reopened its doors, but it is only 50% functioning since many students cannot yet attend the courses.

The Salesians are also concerned about the situation in the country-side, which so far it has not been possible to assess. “The problem of the ownership of the land is the key to resolving the conflict in the long term,  and at the same time it is one of the causes of the rural population being afraid to return home”  the Salesian Vice Province of West Africa tells us.

“The ‘Misiones Salesianas’ invite the international organisations to invest in the future, in reconciliation among the people and in education, as the key factor  for the development of the country,” the Statement sent from Madrid says. – “In the future, on a long term basis, the Salesian mission in Duékoué will promote in the area animation and formation activities.”

To this end the Madrid Mission Office has opened a fund to help the thousands of people in the Ivory Coast. All the information is available on the  site of the Mission Office.

Published 01/07/2011

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