When the conflict broke out
Jean Didier, MSF nurse, Central African Republic
Jean Didier, MSF nurse, Central African Republic

I came here as a refugee from the DRC, in a terrible time of conflict. I was born in Kinshasa and I carried out my medical training there. Then, when fighting broke out and I decided to flee to CAR. When I arrived here I was hired by MSF. I am alone here.

When the conflict broke out around Bossangoa there were no humanitarian organizations. We would only see military vehicles. We would show people our MSF clothes so they would be convinced in what we did. We would tell them we were there to assist in their grief, and in the clinic neither gun nor knives are allowed. We would say their family could get treatment safely here just in case the situation became serious. Some people used to accept but others refused to believe us, saying that if they came to us, they would get shot.

We came across situations that were very difficult, but in such cases you cannot panic. The best thing is to check from where gun shootings can be heard because people run in all directions. MSF usually gets instructions to stop everything and take the cars back to the base. If the gunshots stop, we can go back and continue to work.

Over one year has passed since the coup d’état, and fighting between armed groups, the Seleka and the anti-Balaka, has plunged the Central African Republic into chaos.

People from the town of Bossangoa and its surrounding area were some of those hard hit. Homes and fields were burned, and people were killed.

The Christian population took refuge at the local Catholic Mission, and Muslim civilians fled first to a school called Ecole Liberte, and then by truck convoys to relative safety in Chad.

A handful of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) workers in Bossangoa witnessed it all.