Ivory Coast testimonies - Woman, 21, village by Blolequin, western Ivory Coast

 Woman, 21, village by Blolequin, western Ivory Coast

© Brigitte Breuillac / MSF

Two months ago, we were all in our village when armed men entered. They started to shoot and kill people and burn houses. I fled into the bush with my baby. The attackers ran past me to where my parents were. I could hear my parents screaming and crying. The next day, I went back and found them both dead. Many people were dead and their bodies burned. I ran back to the bush and fled towards Toulepleu. My other young son was with my parents when the attack happened and I haven’t found him since.

I stayed in the bush. We could not go to the village because we have no houses there. We slept under palm roofing and ate raw manioc. Some other people have gone to Liberia but they say there is nothing to eat there. One man came back recently and he says he will go back to call his family to join him here because there is not enough food there.

There are many people out there [in the bush]. And a lot of illness, with people who have stomach problems. We only come out of the bush to go to the clinic. We are too afraid to see dead bodies. Often I think a lot about what happened and my heart starts to pound.

Boy, 17, village by Pehé

© Brigitte Breuillac / MSF

At the end of February, my village was attacked. Twenty of us ran to our campement  together. But the attackers came to find us in the bush in the middle of the night. They shot my mother in the chest, then shot and killed my father and my younger brother and sister. Four people, they killed.

Six other people were wounded. One was my aunt, who was shot in the shoulder. We tried to convince her to go to Danané hospital but she refused because she was too afraid. Up to today, she still has not seen a doctor, the wound is infected and the bullet remains inside her shoulder.

I escaped the campement to another house up on a hill. But the armed men came after me again and set fire to the house. My arm and my leg were burned. I fled the burning house. The men said they would kill. They hit me on the back of my head with a machete, and cut my arm as well. I lost so much blood.

There were two other campements near my village and one my was uncles. Twenty-six people were killed with machetes in those campements – men, women, children, babies.  The attackers dug a hole and buried all these bodies so no one would see them.

From my village, I fled to a campement of my aunt and uncle near Pehé. I was there all alone, and didn’t dare to wash for days. Later, who was left in my family came – just eight of us. Fourteen others had been killed.

We are now like refugees in our own country. We keep looking for food everywhere but from the start we couldn’t find anything in the campements. Often the rice had been burned. We eat bananas and drink water from rivers and shallow wells we dig ourselves.

We never have enough to eat. If we eat  in the morning, we have nothing at night. The rain falls on our heads through the roof of our shelter. People get sick out in the campements and go without treatment. One woman lost two children to malaria and the third one is now sick in the hospital in Danané.

We stay in the bush because we hope the fighting could not touch us there any more. If there is a food distribution I come to the village. But then I go back to the bush, because there is not peace in our village.

 I knew all of those armed men. They were from my village, I even know their names. My village is now full of these people, how can I go back to live there? I think a lot about how all my family is gone. What is left behind is me and my memories .