SOS children's village reopens

The SOS-Kinderdorf International Children's Village in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bukavu reopened on Monday, now that some calm has returned after recent fighting between government and dissident troops.

The charity reported on Thursday that the national director of SOS Children's Villages in the DRC, Marthe Kangane, had said the improved security situation had enabled the SOS Medical Centre, primary school and kindergarten to reopen after their 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," SOS-Kinderdorf International said in a statement posted on the Internet on Thursday. [Visit www.sos-childrensvillages.org]

Collectively the three facilities, which form part of the village, can accommodate 748 children.

The charity said normalcy was also slowly returning to the family homes in the village. It said SOS mothers were able to procure food and everyday supplies, "albeit at greatly inflated prices" because most of the big markets had been burnt during the fighting.

The fighting, which started on 26 May, was accompanied by looting, which also affected the SOS Children's Village office where windowpanes, doors, locks, towels, soap, telephones and food were stolen, it said.

"When compared to other international organisations, however, SOS Children's Villages remained relatively unaffected by the raids," it added.

SOS children's villages revolve around the effort to give children who have lost their parents or who are no longer able to live with them a permanent home and a stable environment. SOS-Kinderdorf International is the umbrella organisation of all SOS children's village associations.