Caritas Helps Togolese Refugees

22,000 Fled to Neighboring Countries

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PORTO-NOVO, Benin, MAY 6, 2005 ( Caritas-Benin responded immediately to the needs of thousands of Togolese refugees who fled post-election violence in their country.

Last month’s election results in the small African country of Togo favored President Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema, the son of the recently deceased Gnassingbe Eyadema, which the opposition called fraudulent.

The announcement sparked street protests that left nearly two dozen people dead, and sent more than 22,000 refugees to Benin and Ghana, reported the United Nations.

Caritas-Benin «went into action immediately and is distributing food,» reported a statement of Caritas-Italy.

«Caritas parish groups of the Lokossa diocese are taking aid to refugee families and other parishes are ready to distribute provisions and essential articles. Many refugees have been received in the Hillacondji parish, and the wounded have been taken to Come hospital and nearby health centers.»

About $140,000 will be allocated to assist 10,000 refugees over the next three months, primarily for essential provisions such as rice and sugar.

«Caritas’ international network went immediately to the support of Caritas-Benin, making an emergency appeal,» continues the statement.

Former President Gnassingbe Eyadema died of a heart attack Feb. 5. He ruled Benin for 38 years.

Benedict XVI appealed for peace and reconciliation in Togo May 1.

Togo’s Constitutional Court confirmed Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema as winner of the elections May 3, validating the results of the disputed election.

27.91% of Togo’s more than 5 million inhabitants are Catholic.

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