MSF 1999 Report: Patients Accounts

MSF 1999 Report: Mutilations of civilians in Sierra Leone

Testimony was taken from 17 patients who arrived at the Connaught from 2nd May to 15th May. Most of these patients had suffered severe mutilations. Their names are not given for security reasons.

 


 

  • Interview 01

    Sex: F
    Age: approximately 8 years old
    Date of Admission: 2/5/99
    Date of incident: May 1

    Wound: Deep laceration to the right cheek. Fracture of the occipital bone.

    Description of incident: (Interviewed the mother as the child is mute from birth. The mother ran into the bush at the time of the attack and so was not a witness. The father was a witness but was not present during the interview. He returned to their village to tell the people that his daughter was alive.)

    Armed men attacked their village in vehicles around 5 a.m. shooting in the air. They looted everything from the place and there was some burning. They started just chopping at the people as they ran past them. This girl was first struck on the side by a machette which did no real damage. The second cut was on the face.

    The father carried the girl for 9 miles through the bush to safety. Her cheek bone was completely broken from the machette blow.

     

     


  • Interview 02

    Sex: F
    Age: 17 yrs
    Date of Admission: 3/5/99
    Date of incident: April 17th (approx.)

Wound: Laceration on the right lower leg.

Description of incident: (she is still in shock.)
She and her family and other villagers had been hiding in the bush since before December. On 17th April, armed men entered the village in the morning, and called all the people together for a meeting. When they gathered together, they heard ECOMOG was on its way to attack. There was panic and people starting running. The armed men started chopping at people and also ran after some. She was hit on the leg when she was running.

Her brother and sister were taken by the armed group. She saw 5 dead, and "many wounded in the bush."

 


  • Interview 03

    Sex: F
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 3/5/99
    Date of incident: April 17, 99

    Wound: Fingers of the right hand cut

    Description of incident: She and her family and village had been hiding in the bush for over 6 months. Armed men came in the afternoon and began shooting wildly. There were many who came to attack. Everyone started to panic and run. She was caught and they chopped her hand. They told her to go and ask Kabbah (The President of Sierra Leone) to give her new hands.

    They pulled her 3-year-old child off her back. A young boy started to kick and beat it and threatened to kill the child. They started to yell at her and told her to take her child and go away. She saw one dead and many others who had been cut.


  • Interview 04

    Sex: M
    Age: Adult (20-30)
    Date of Admission: 3/5/99
    Date of incident: May 2 (?)

    Wound: Double amputation of hands, lips and surrounding tissue cut off.

    Description of incident: Patient unable to speak and was unaccompanied.

     


  • Interview 05

     

    Sex: F
    Age: Adult*
    Date of Admission: 3/5/99
    *with 10 month baby girl
    Date of incident: April 17(approx.)

    Wound: Lacerations to the middle of the fingers on the right hand.

    Description of incident:
    On Saturday at around 2pm, armed men entered their village. She only saw one with a gun. All the people ran into the bush when they saw them coming. The men burned all the houses and followed the villagers into the bush. She and her baby were caught. They held her down and chopped at her hand, and told her to ask Pa Kabbah to give her new hands. They then took the child from her back and started beating the baby. They then ran into the bush.


     

  • Interview 06

    Sex: F
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 3/5/99
    Date of incident: April 16th

    Wound: Internal injury of the left arm from beating.

    Description of incident:
    Armed men entered in the early morning without shooting. They started looting and burning the village. The people started running to the bush as soon as they heard the looting start. Some were followed by the perpetrators. She and her 13-year-old son were caught. She was badly beated but not cut with a machette. They took her son and he started screaming and crying. She told him to be quiet and go with them or they would kill him. Then the men told her that because she "gave" her son she would not be cut.

    They had been in the bush before for about five months living off of palm kernals (nuts) and casava root.


  • Interview 07

    Sex: F
    Age: Middle age
    Date of Admission: 3/5/99
    Date of incident: unknown

    Wound: Lacerations on the head, shoulder and back.

    Description of incident:
    Unable to interview the patient as she died just after arrival. Others said that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she died of a broken heart.


  • Interview 08

    Sex: M
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: April 30(?)

    Wound: Deep laceration on the neck (attempted decapitation)

    Description of incident:
    After the village of Mile 4 was attacked, groups of armed men attacked Songo. It was around 11 p.m. The man was with his wife and 3 children. They were in bed. The armed group entered town and burst into peoples' homes. When they heard their door being broken down, they jumped out of bed. When the man left his room he saw a man near the door so he ran out the back. The one inside started shooting. As he ran out of the house there was another man with a machette waiting for him. He hit him on the side of the neck with the machette.

    He did not see his family anywhere, and he does not know what happened to the rest of the village. He ran to the bush and spent 1 week alone just outside of town.

     


  • Interview 09

    Sex: M
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: 4th May (approximately)

    Wound: 2 gun shots; one on each leg

    Description of incident:
    The man lived in his home village with his 2 wives, four children, his brother, in sisters-in-law and his brother's child. Armed groups would sometimes pass through the village. The people of his village would run into the bush each time they passed. The population was not harrassed, but these groups would take some food.

    The day before Christmas, armed men entered the town shooting and he and his family ran to the bush. They spent 5 months there. He prepared a farm and was getting ready to plant. He thinks that the armed groups heard his rooster and they came early in the morning when it was still dark.

    Someone gave the alarm when they saw these men coming and they all ran to the bush again. He was trying to gather the little food together that he still had when his attackers came and shot him twice. His brother heard him crying and came to help him. He was shot and killed. Those remaining villagers came out of the bush after the attack and buried his brother.

     


  • Interview 10

    Sex: F
    Age: 8 yrs.
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: 2 weeks ago (around 24th April)

    Wound: Amputation of right hand

    Description of incident: One month ago, retreating armed groups from Freetown attacked their village of Mafunta. They entered the village and told the inhabitants to leave. Anyone that was difficult was killed or had their hands chopped off. All their food was looted, and the village burned. Three children were taken, all boys aged 9, 7 and 6 years-old. 2 people were killed in this attack.

    The girl ran, with 24 other villagers to the village of Mamoni. Around the 24th April, armed men entered the town in the morning and started yelling at people. They had guns but no ammunition. They captured four people; this girl, her uncle and 2 men. The 2 men were killed on the spot. The girl and the man each had a hand amputated. The child and her uncle were told to go ask Kabbah for new hands.

    The mother went back after the attack and took the child to the bush. Three days later they were caught by armed men again who stole their food. They moved to another village called Beng for about 3 days, and then came to Masiaka on the 3rd of May.


  • Interview 11

    Sex: F
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: About 3 weeks ago (no idea or day or time)

    Wound: Deep lacerations on right hand

    Description of incident:
    Armed men came to her village and told the inhabitants that they had to come with them to another location to do manual work for them (gathering and preparing food, etc.). They were told if they did this work they would not be hurt. There were more than 30 people all together.

    After they finished the work they prepared to go back to their village. They started on the bush path and they were ambushed by the "rebels". Some of the people were caught. They amputated some peoples' hands, others were killed. She saw 5 amputees.

    After they were chopped, the armed men ran after them yelling that they should go to Kabbah to get new hands. They returned to their village and spent 3 weeks in the bush. They were attacked again and they ran deeper into the bush.

     


  • Interview 12

    Sex: F
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: Approximately April 22

    Wound: Cutlass wound to the left leg

    Description of incident:
    Armed men told them to leave their village (about 6 months ago), but no one was hurt at that time. They stole food and property and left. The people from the village went to the bush.

    In the bush camp there were about 50 adults when they were attacked. It was early evening and only the children were asleep. Armed men entered the camp. There was a lot of confusion and the people ran into the bush, leaving the sleeping children behind. She left 6 children behind. The youngest is only 6 years-old. The armed men were chopping at people when they were running away. That is how her leg was injured.

    After the attack left, they returned to the camp to check the situation. All the children were gone. They were able to remember at least 40 children that had disappeared.

    They stayed in the bush until the 6th of May.


  • Interview 13

    Sex: M
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: 3 weeks previously

    Wound: Right forearm damaged from heavy beating

    Description of incident:
    He left his home village of Masampa about 1 month ago after an attack on the village. The attack took place at night Ã?­ there were many 'rebels', but they were not using their guns. They started yelling at the people to bring out food and property. They ran around and entered houses, and finally burned the village. His mother was killed and he saw 2 injured.

    He ran into the bush in a group of about 20 people. They were followed and the armed men took about 15 of the 20 people (woman, children, men). He continued in the bush and stayed in a place called Malamina. They were again attacked at night. People started to run and the "rebels" started chopping at them. Some were killed and he saw 2 others "chopped" but he did not see them after that.

    He was caught and thrown on the ground with 3 other people. They were beaten with sticks. Finally they managed to escape and ran into the bush for 3 weeks.


     

  • Interview 14

    Sex: M
    Age: 26 yrs
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: about two weeks previously

    Wound: Attempted amputation of both ears and RUF carved in his chest and back.

    Description of incident:
    About 5-6 months ago, 'rebels' entered his village of Ropat when everyone was asleep. They had only knives (cutlasses). They called all the people to the center of town. He could not move from his bed because he was sick.

    They took food and clothes. They also took some people with them to the main road - women, children and men. They were abducted. No-one in the village was killed.

    They were attacked a 2nd time, this time during the day. This man was lying under the mango tree as he was still not well. He suddenly saw all the people running away. He was the only one left. He saw them coming at him with a big knife. The asked him to go into the bush and fight with them. He said it was not possible because he was sick. They then tied his hands. They beat him and carved RUF in his back and his chest. Then they tried to cut off his ears.

    He was somehow untied before they left. He ran into the bush and found his family there. They lived in the bush for 2 weeks.


  • Interview 15

    Sex: M
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 6/5/99
    Date of incident: about three weeks ago (same attack as the interview 10)

    Wound: Amputation of the right hand.

    Description of incident:
    They left Mafunta about 5 months ago when they were first attacked. He could remember a number of times that they were attacked since the "rebels" were pushed out of Freetown.

    The first time, armed groups came at 6 a.m. The village ran away and no-one was killed. Everything was looted and burned. They went into the bush.

    In their bush camp they were attacked again. The armed men took 4 people; 3 men and 1 girl (including him and his niece the 8-yr old above). One man was beaten to death, 1 was killed. The armed men started to scream at the people to bring out the rice that they had hidden. They had no food hidden and so he and his niece had their hands chopped off. They then were told to ask Kabbah for new hands, and to tell Kabbah that "we did our job".

    They went back into the bush for about two weeks. They were attacked again.


  • Interview 16

    Sex: M
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 15/5/99
    Date of incident: May 13

    Wound: Attempted amputation of the left hand

    Description of incident:
    The village was attacked in the morning hours. Armed men entered the town shooting in the air. They went from house to house and demanded whatever they had. They took food and clothes. He and his wife and 2 youngest children prepared to leave, and managed to escape. They ran to a small village in the swamp. They saw that the armed men were following them. He wanted to run but they could not with the children.

    The perpetrators gathered him and his family along with others to one place and instructed them to carry the looted property. There were many people. They spent one week with them in the bush.

    The 'rebels' then decided they were leaving. They said they would kill his two sons and his wife. They started to take people from the group one by one and put a log on the ground. The people were decapitated, and then the next person was called. He saw 10 people killed and then he was called. He begged them to kill him first before the rest of his family. They said they would not kill him, but instead chopped his hand, and then chased him away into the bush.

    He ran to the bush alone. After 2 days he returned to the village and then he saw his wife and children dead.


  • Interview 17

    Sex: M
    Age: Adult
    Date of Admission: 9/5/99
    Date of incident: May 7

    Wound: Gun shot to the neck

    Description of incident:
    People came running into the village saying that 'rebels' were coming. They all ran into the bush. Early the next day they went to check the village. Things were quiet. His wife arrived just coming from another village saying that she saw a car full of soldiers - but did not know who it was. They ran into the swamps in fear of attacks. They heard gunshots and then a grenade exploding, so they kept running. They slept one night in the bush, and then moved to the next village.

    The following day they heard shots and big explosions close by, so they ran even further. They stayed there for two months. Then they heard that the nearby town had reinforcements and so went there for safety.

    They stayed in the town for another two months. One night sitting outside his house, he heard people talking of an attack on a nearby village. Then an armoured vehicle began firing. It was too late in the night to see what was happening and so he went under the bed with his daughter of 10 years.

    Armed men entered his house and started looting food, and he heard them saying that anyone left should be shot. Then he heard them say they needed to check the rooms of the house. They entered his room and pointed a torch on his face. They called him out and told him to leave the child.

    They started beating him and asking whom he was fighting for? He said he was a civilian and not fighting for anyone. They accused him of lying and ordered him to sit on the ground. His arms were not working properly due to the beating.

    Three men came up to him - one quite young. One pointed a gun at him and shot him in the neck. He fell and waited. The men continued to loot the house. On their way out they stepped on his feet to see if he was alive.

    When they left he sat up and saw houses on fire so he ran to the bush. He met some neighbours in the bush. They stayed for four days in the bush before making his way to Freetown.