accessibility & help

Vanessa’s story: lost without my parents

Ivorian girl in refugee camp in LiberiaVanessa, 12, was separated from her family in December 2010, during conflict in the Ivory Coast.

“I was coming from school when I heard the shooting and I was unable to reach home,” Vanessa said. “I had to run away and I followed my friends, I was very afraid. I haven’t seen my parents since and I feel very bad that I’m not with them.”

As Vanessa and three of her friends fled through the bush towards Liberia they ran into Hawa, a woman they knew from their village. Now they are all living in a refugee camp just outside Zorgowee town, Nimba county, about 30 km from the Liberian border with the Ivory Coast.

Waiting for news

Vanessa said: “When I saw Hawa it was a relief. I am friends with her children and she was looking for them as we were all running away, but I didn’t know where her children were.

“Even though I think about my parents and I’m lonely, I’m thankful that Hawa is taking care of me.

“When I arrived at the border town in Liberia, the Red Cross registered me because I was not with my parents and I’m still waiting for news about them. I didn’t have a number for my parents but I told the Red Cross my parents’ names and my village.”

Hungry and frightened

“This is a hard time and the biggest thing is that there is very little food. Also there is no school for me to go to and I only have three pieces of clothes.

“There is not much to eat here, I get a small portion of bulgar wheat and beans once a day but it’s not enough. I feel hungry all the time.

“I have two younger brothers and when I sit and think about how we used to play together I miss them a whole lot. I wonder what has happened to them. For the time being I want to stay here because I’m afraid to go back. I haven’t heard from my family and I’m frightened I won’t see them again.”

Read Inesse's story about being pregnant and a refugee

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