The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is saddened to report that Pierre Kla Sondé, a member of our child protection staff in Ivory Coast, was killed on March 28 during violence near Duékoué in the western part of the country.
Kla Sondé, 40 and an Ivorian native, was part of an IRC team aiding people displaced by fierce political violence and unrest that followed disputed presidential elections in November.
Kla Sondé was returning from several days’ leave to attend to family matters in the southwestern Tabou region when he was killed in a village just north of Duékoué. Few details are available about the incident because of the still tumultuous situation in the country.
“Our collective thoughts and prayers go out to Pierre’s family and to our dedicated colleagues in the Ivory Coast,” said IRC president George Rupp.
Kla Sondé worked tirelessly to promote and protect the rights of children. He helped reunite children who were lost in the post-election chaos with their families and set up “child friendly spaces” – safe, welcoming centers where uprooted children can play, learn and start to heal.
During 2010 Kla Sondé was part of an IRC team helping reintegrate former child soldiers and other vulnerable young Ivorians into their communities. He previously worked with the IRC for six years in Tabou, assisting Liberian refugee children. In his role as child protection officer, Kla Sondé helped reunify families, ensured separated children had the documentation and support they needed, and enabled Liberian students to attend school in Ivorian classrooms.
He is survived by his wife and six children.
Colleagues recall Kla Sondé with warmth. Eduardo Garcia Rolland, the IRC’s child protection technical advisor, said, “Pierre’s devotion to the children he worked with, and their fondness for him, came through resoundingly for all to see.”