Main distribution site in Gblarlay, Zoegeh District, Nimba County, Nimba County
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Thirty-five year old Tiede Pauline is one of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing political violence in Ivory Coast.
The long journey to neighbouring Liberia was tougher for Tiede than for many: she is blind. She lost her eyesight three years ago after problems with her eyes went untreated because she couldn’t get the medical attention she urgently needed.
“Because of the war my husband, mother and children held me by the hand and helped me cross over into Liberia to save our lives,” says Tiede.
The journey was very difficult for me. My mother took along whatever she managed to lay her hands on. It’s by the mercy of God that just as we reached the border, the rebels attacked our town.
The escalating violence has sparked a humanitarian crisis that many have been unprepared for. But when Tiede arrived at a transit centre with her husband and mother and seven children, ActionAid Liberia was ready. We have worked with communities on the borders since 2007. Since November 2010’s disputed election and the mass exodus of Ivorians to Liberia, we’ve been on high alert.
“They gave me some rice, canned fish, washing soap, toothbrush and toothpaste and maggi cube and I accept them with my whole heart,” Tiede says.
I thank ActionAid but I hope they will bring more next time.
So far we’ve provided food and essential items like the ones Tiede describes to over 5,000 refugees. We have been focusing on the most vulnerable people: women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children, the elderly and people with disabilities like Tiede.
But with thousands more refugees pouring into Liberia every day – where 85% of people live below the poverty line - our work is just beginning.
As well as providing life-saving food packages and shelter, we’ll need to tackle the psychological effects of the conflict: offering crucial counseling to help people overcome the emotional impact of what they are living through.
In the long term, we’ll continue to work with both Liberian communities and Ivorian refugees like Tiede to ensure they’re better prepared for crises like this one.
The UK is leading our fundraising appeal for the Ivory Coast. Donate today: help us help people like Tiede