Displaced Persons in Abidjan Still Too Frightened to Return Home

Recent fighting in Abidjan has left many Ivoirians without homes or means of survival. WFP is providing necessary food assistance to displaced Ivoirians, many of whom remain too frightened to return home.

The grounds of the Harris Mission Church in Bingerville on the outskirts of Abidjan are dotted with white tents – it is the temporary home for some 900 people who sought refuge this spring.  Most come from other areas of the city where the fighting was most intense.

Today WFP is distributing monthly rations: each person will receive 12 kgs of rice and 1.5 kgs of corn soya blend.  Several other agencies also work here providing shelter and medical care.

Most of the women and children here are still traumatized – they sleep badly, fearful of intruders and are frightened when there is an unexpected noise.

Cécile Djiekpe, 50 had the misfortune to be at the scene of some of the worst fighting in two towns. She makes traditional soap from coconut milk in her home in Abidjan but was in Duékoué in the north for a funeral when fighting  broke out there.  Duékoué was the scene of some of the most horrific  atrocities during the crisis.

‘I stayed at the Catholic Mission and then I walked back home to Abidjan with my children,’ she says pointing to her still swollen feet. ‘It took us two days.’

At home in her neighbourhood of Abobo, things did not get better.  There was heavy fighting, houses were looted and burnt and Cécile found safety in the mission grounds.

‘I sent my children to stay with relatives where it is quiet. I don’t want them here, they are so traumatized.’

Léontine Su, 43 lives close to her friend Cécile in Abobo.  She was also forced to flee with her three children and is still reliving the experience.

‘When the shooting started we lay on the floor, when it stopped we ran to another neighbourhood. We would run and then when there was shooting we would hide, that’s what we did, run and hide, run and hide. There were bodies in the road and they were looting and burning the houses.’

They finally arrived in one church which already full of displaced people but were directed to the Harris Mission.

Léontine returned home once, all that remains of her house is a bed frame without the mattress. She is too afraid to go back to live and is not sure what she will do in the future.

‘I thank God for the food WFP gives me. Where would we be without it?’