Nightmare in Mali: A first-person account from Diabaly*


As told to CARE on January 19, 2013:

My house is about a dozen meters from the military camp in Diabaly. This Thursday at 5:00 in the morning, we heard gunfire between armed groups and the Malian army, which had rigorously counter-attacked the armed groups in Alatona, at the entrance to the town.

We heard loud gunshots everywhere and, tragically, one civilian was killed in the gunfire. I quickly ran to take cover at a friend's house. I was relieved that my family had already traveled to Markala for the weekend.

It was total panic everywhere in the town of Diabaly and the population had only one choice: hide in their houses and pray to God.

I hid for three days in horrible conditions, without any food. The second and third days were particularly nightmarish for me, because as a worker for a water company, one of the armed groups was looking for me to kill me. According to their philosophy, you are not allowed to sell water.

Thanks to a source that I would rather not name, I was quickly informed of the situation. I will never stop thanking the population of Diabaly: not only did they refuse to hand me over to the armed group; they disguised me as a woman and helped me flee the town. On my lips were but one sole refrain that came from the bottom of my heart: May God protect us, God is great.

I walked for 35 kilometers by foot before I came to a place with telephone coverage, and I called a friend in Niono, a town about 60 kilometers away, who came to rescue me by motorbike.

I arrived exhausted and traumatized by the events that occurred in Diabaly. Now, by the grace of God, my morale is better, and I am asking everyone to immediately come to the aid of the people of Diabaly – particularly with food – because they are in desperate need.

*The name of the person in this story has been withheld to protect his identity.

Safe humanitarian access is critical at this point and remains a major challenge for all humanitarian actors in Mali. However, with close to 9,000 people uprooted from their homes since the latest round of violence began on January 10, CARE is eager to better understand the situation and needs of the people. We have a rapid assessment team in the region of Ségou and another team will go to the Mopti region when it's deemed safe.

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