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15/4/2011 - Spain - An urgent appeal from Salesian Missions
(ANS – Madrid) – The Salesian Mission Office in Madrid has launched an urgent appeal to all the international organisations to find a solution to the situation of the refugees living in the  “Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus” Salesian mission in Duékoué, Ivory Coast. The Salesian Missions are seeking humanitarian aid and a United Nations refugee camp in Duékoué, otherwise “there will be a cholera epidemic.”

nsecurity, lack of food, shortage of drinking water and medicine: this is the daily situation in the Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus” Salesian mission iN Duékoué. “Over 30,000 people have flocked to the mission, which when full could provide hospitality for at the most 8,000 people standing. There is no food, people are sleeping on the ground, there is no where else to go, there are no toilets or washing facilties and we have no drinking water” reports the Salesian priest Fr Vicente Grupeli, a powerless witness. He begs: “don’t leave thousands of people here week after week without proper hygiene or medical facilities. We don’t have food to give to the refugees. There will be a cholera epidemic and other things that will kill the children and the elderly.”     

In spite of the arrest of Gbagbo, the situation for civilians in Duékoué is unclear. “The refugees who live in nearby villages are starting to return home accompanied by the Blue Helmets of the of UNO, but in the city the forces of Ouattara are setting up check points and questioning the people indiscrimately what tribes they belong to. This does not mean that there is more security. On the contrary the people are afraid” Fr Grupeli explains.

“Over 400 families are homeless following recent attacks at the end of March in the Carrefour district. These people will be staying in the mission for months,” he continues.

Normal activities at the mission in Duékoué have been suspended. The Salesians have a parish, a vocational training centre, a childrens’ home and a  youth centre. In addition they look after the people in 90 villages in the country near the city, but for the last 3 months they have not been able to reach them. “Our work now has to become especially social work. We need to dedicate all our efforts to restoring a situation where people can live peacefully together”.

At present the banks in the country are closed, economic activity has stopped and it is only possible for help to arrive for the Ivory Coast by international aid agencies. The Salesian Missions have opened a medium and long-term aid fund  for the Ivory Coast.

Published 15/04/2011

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