by Amnesty International Canada
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Tags: ivory coast, cote d'ivoire, catholic mission
Yesterday after many long hours interviewing 21 people, one after another, all of whom recounted grim experiences of being attacked, nearly killed, watching loved ones being killed, and seeing their homes and everything they owned be destroyed by fire, my tireless translator quietly said, “You heard these people and their fear. How can anyone not understand why we won't go home? Of course we want to go home. But we can't.”
by Amnesty International Canada
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Tags: amnesty international canada, 1000 villages, scrimmages
It's June the 9th 2011 and I'm in Sassandra, Côte d’Ivoire. Over the past two days we've been interviewing survivors of a wave of violence in early May in five fairly isolated villages in southern Côte d’Ivoire about 250 kilometres west of Abidjan. We are still piecing the information together but what is emerging is a picture of an ugly mix of scirmishes between soldiers and militias, targeted killings, and inter-communal violence that left around 200 people dead, scores more badly injured, hundreds of homes burned, wide spread looting and destruction, and at least 1,000 villagers displaced.
This is Caroline Gluck, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Press Officer, and I’ve been visiting border areas in Liberia, very close to where the fighting’s been in Ivory Coast. Today I went to Wedger’s (?) main hospital, the Market Hoplin (?) Memorial Hospital, where doctors told me they treated more than 15 people for gunshot wounds, injuries sustained when they were trying to leave their villages which were under attack by armed rebels. I met one of them, his name was Simon Tay(?), he’s 29 from the village called Saidly (?) which is in the district called Tillelepleur (?) and he told me he’s a farmer. He told me a story of how he got the gunshot wound. His family had fled the house when the fighting broke out. But they came back the next day because they wanted to try and get some food, and his sister was with him. But when they were in the house, gunmen entered again. He and his sister got separated, he then called out to find her, rushed towards her and held out his hand when a bullet went through his hand and went into his sister who fell on the ground. He fled and for the last two weeks, having made his way, a journey of four or five days, to Liberia, he’s been the last two weeks in hospital being treated. Obviously really devastated. He’s lost two fingers, he says he doesn’t think he’ll be able to work as a farmer in the future, and he’s not sure if his sister is dead or alive. These are some of the human tales of suffering as a result of the last month or so of fighting in Ivory Coast. It’s not just people like Simon who’ve been affected, but um, when many families fled and they’ve had a couple of days journey reaching Liberia, it’s been very difficult for the women especially, some of whom were heavily pregnant. Some even gave birth in the forest. And one thing that the hospital has seen is a lot of women who’ve come in severely anaemic , they’ve had to have blood transfusions, and they’ve been treated. Also, affected are some children, some who were already sick in the Ivory Coast , and there’s a ward, a therapeutic feeding centre, where I met a couple of them. One was a little girl, she was so painfully thin, she was weighing just five kilograms, and she’s a year and ten months old. Her normal body weight should be about 10-15 kilograms so that shows how tiny she is. And her mother told me that she was already quite bad back at home in Ivory Coast, but the whole experience of being in the forest with no food just made the situation far worse. So those are some of the human stories that I’ve been hearing. Today Oxfam put out a press release. We’re really worried that the approaching rains are going to make it really difficult to get aid to communities, to refugees, thousands of whom are not in any camps or transit centres, but still in border villages where it’s quite difficult to get aid right now, but with the approaching rains it’s going to be almost impossible to get aid to them. Our press release is called ‘the clock is ticking to help refugees’ and you can read it on our website which is www.oxfam.org.uk. And we’re basically warning that there’s a limited opportunity to get aid, to get help to these people before the rainy season. I have to say, last night again there was very heavy rain and this just makes it almost impossible for the trucks to go down heavily forested roads, they’re not even roads, they’re dirt tracks, and they’re heavily pitted now with lots of holes . As I said in my podcast yesterday, one truck that we’ve been trying to get into the village where we’ve been working, bringing in water, actually overturned one day, so that illustrates how hard the problem’s going to be, and unless people move from these border areas into larger areas, centres where we can get help to them effectively and easily, they risk being cut off from help altogether when the rainy season approaches. I think the next few days are going to be critical. We don’t know what is going to happen, we hear there’s heavy fighting in the most populous area, Abidjan, now for control for power. But meanwhile thousands of people are still arriving here in Liberia every day. They’re sick in many cases, they need help – they don’t have clothing, they don’t have food, they need shelter. These are the immediate needs, and these are needs that we hope to address in the next few days and weeks. This is Caroline Gluck for Oxfam, saying goodbye.
by Oxfam Channel - update from the field
Tags: host community, glock, refugees
This is Caroline Gluck Oxfam Humanitarian Press Officer. I'm currently in Grand Guedeh which is where many thousands of refugees have fled escaping conflict in the Ivory Coast or Cote D'Ivoire. Today I went to a town right on the border it's about 6 kilometers from the border called Bawadei(?) where more than 2000 refugees have took shelter with the host community. The arrivals have actually effectively more than doubled a community and put real strain on people living there. People are mainly subsistence farmers but they've opened up their homes and their hearts to these new arrivals. They've allowed them to stay in their houses and they've given them food and in some case also clothing because many simply fled their villages when the fighting started and walked across to Liberia, a journey that took them 4 even 5 days. So they're quite traumatised. They've got nothing with them, no shelter, no food. But now there are so many people in the community it's putting a huge strain on them. Food stocks are running out... In that village there are three water pumps but only one is effectively working. So Oxfam today, managed to get water supplies into the community and we've connected it to taps so that people can have water for cleaning and for drinking. We're also looking at installing latrines because people are defecating outside at the moment. But one real problem is actually getting help to the border villages where most of the estimated 100,000 plus refugees from Cote D'Ivoire or Ivory Coast have come into Liberia. Most are staying with host communities in border villages. There’s only one established camp, set up by UNHCR and something like 2,500 people are living there at the moment so a very small number of people in areas further away from the border where help can be got more effectively and quickly. And to illustrate a point, we tried to truck water to the village of Bawadei(?) yesterday and it had rained very heavily the night before. As a result the truck overturned and we had to abort the mission because we simply couldn’t get through the road. So this problem is going to increase as the weeks go by because the rainy season is going to start in earnest in April so the clock is ticking and we need to get help to people who really need it urgently now. I met one family today in Bawadei (?) whose story really struck me. It’s a family with six children and the adults and they’ve spent days travelling by foot from their village to get through Ivory Coast. And they told me on the fourth day they had to cross the river with a very fast flowing current with about 30 people and two of them were daughters of this woman’s sister who escaped the fighting but got separated. And unfortunately these two children lost their footing on a tree truck that they had to cross over the river and they lost their lives. They drowned and the current was so strong that nobody could rescue them. And the family is still very traumatised by this. They’re now living with a family in Bawadei (?), but said there are 22 other people sharing the same room, there’s not much room, there’s not much food, they’re very grateful for the help they’ve got, but they’re actually quite concerned about the strain it’s putting on the family that’s helping them.So these are some of the stories that I’ve been hearing from people that have come across. Many have been separated, there are mothers with young children who aren’t with their husbands because they fled the fighting when rebels came to their village… They just simply got up and ran and lost their relatives and their loved ones. I met two children yesterday, the family had fled, but the girl had polio and the brother had been working as an apprentice mechanic. When he came home she was the only one at home and he helped her, and in some cases he had to carry her through the bush, until they could get to safety. They’re very touching stories. At the moment the communities and the people are very patient but they say their main needs now are shelter. They don’t have enough shelter, they’re running out of food, they don’t have good supplies of water and they need clothing as well. They need help and they need it now. More people are coming as refugees into Liberia everyday as fighting intensifies in Ivory Coast. This is Caroline Gluck in Grand Guedeh having just come back from the border town of Bawadei (?) signing off.
Today I?ll walk you through a VERY fast tasting of a Cote du Rhone, one of my favorite styles of French wine. While normally it would take me 45 minutes to an hour to really ?get into? a wine; I?m going to try to give you a sense of what I do when I?m tasting, grading and writing about the wines that I taste! Salute!