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Posts Tagged ‘refugees’

From the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, March 22

The organization where I work has been present on the border between Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia for awhile now, supporting Ivorians who are escaping the conflict as well as the Liberian communities that are receiving people from Cote d’Ivoire.  (See another good map here.)

What is it like for those who are fleeing Cote d’Ivoire? An account came in by email this morning from our disaster specialist who just returned from Nimba County, located on the border. He told of a woman he had met who arrived in Liberia completely naked, with three children under the age of 6.  She had fled the violence in Abidjan on a Red Cross truck. Then she’d walked, carrying her baby, from the Western town of Daloa to the town of Giglo, passing near Duekoue (where a massacre is said to have taken place). She then continued on to the Liberia border; about 250 km. She had been travelling with her sister and her sister’s 2 children but her sister didn’t make it to Liberia.  She’s buried in the forest. My colleague described the woman’s children as so distressed they can barely speak.

My colleague went on saying that ‘Some people told me that armed men came to their villages and attacked them.  They saw neighbors killed by gunfire, just metres away from them.  Other people told me they fled to small houses in the bush, for fear their villages might be attacked.  But it didn’t make any difference.  When armed men came to the village and found no one there, they’d simply come into the bush, find people and kill them. The people I talked with told me the clashes were the result of ethnic problems.  Their ethnic group was being persecuted by others.’

He describes mostly women and children crossing the border from Ivory Coast and only a few men.  ‘I don’t know what happened to the men and boys.  Some young people told me their brothers and fathers were fighting for one of the sides in the conflict in Ivory Coast.  But no one seems sure of what is happening back in their home countryMany people who have fled Ivory Coast are staying with relatives just over the Liberia border.  Along the border area, many people are of the same ethnic group so there is no trouble with the newcomers.  However, every day, as the fighting grows more intense, more and more people arrive in Liberia.’

The term ‘endgame’ has been all over the headlines for the past 3 or 4 days now, but the ‘end’ of Gbagbo doesn’t mean that things will go back to normal for most people any time soon. Last I heard there are a million people displaced internally and 200,000 externally. I rather doubt it’s the ‘end’ of the crisis for them.

There was a saying people used a lot in El Salvador, though I hear it originates in Africa:  When the elephants fight, it’s the ants who suffer.

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