The post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire has been growing more severe over the past weeks. The UN says that almost 500 people have been killed and a million have fled their homes.
Mathieu Guei, the General Secretary of GBUCI, the IFES movement there, tells us what is happening within the country:
‘Two of our staff workers, Raymond and Gondamar, told me that the day their cities were attacked by rebels, universities closed and students had to flee. I was able to speak to them briefly then, but they are still waiting to hear from some of their students there. We don’t know how many were able to go back to their families.
‘Shootings can be heard day and night. It’s very difficult: there is a lot of fear.
’Public transport has stopped working. Shops and markets only open for one hour in the morning: crowds queue for food but there isn’t much left anyway. Prices have gone up, banks have closed, and there is no money circulating. How can we buy food? We are also experiencing water shortages. My wife and some of the female students staying with us occasionally venture out during the day, sometimes at night, to try and find some water so we can drink and take showers. This is becoming a serious humanitarian problem: if the country is not provisioned with new supplies quickly there won’t be any food left within a few days.
‘We have welcomed some of our students who lived nearby in our home. We try to feed them, look after them. There isn’t anywhere in the country that can be considered safe. Even the suburb where we live, Cocody, which is near to where the presidential headquarters are, has become a target. The other most populated suburb in the north part of the city, Abobo, is also being held by rebels. Sometimes in the middle of the night we hear helicopters which are bringing new soldiers passing over our roofs. It wakes people up and frightens them, and we hear a lot of screaming and it’s hard to go back to sleep.
‘I try to encourage our students through daily devotions and prayer times but sometimes even during these times the firing of guns can being heard outside and so we have to stop and get down on the floor. There are lots of rumours going around as well, which adds to the fear that is already present, and some of our students are afraid to step outside the house. My wife and I know of a few places in our neighbourhood that are relatively safe and so we try to encourage the students to make an effort and go out when they can. But it’s very hard for them.
‘Some of our students were stuck in Abidjan and couldn’t travel outside the city, and so I suggested they stay in the GBUCI office. All universities are closed and therefore activities have stopped. It’s not an easy situation.
‘Please pray for this situation to end as soon as possible. Pray that God would keep a close watch on our students, especially those we haven’t heard from yet, wherever they are. I thank God that my family and I as well as our students have all stayed healthy, but please pray for the health of all people, as hospitals are lacking supplies of medicine and staff. We fear a humanitarian catastrophe with more deaths due to injuries and lack of food and water in the days to come. We look to the Lord.’
Thank you for your prayers for Côte d’Ivoire.
IFES Global Communications