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Refugees Who Fled Côte d’Ivoire Tell Their Stories

Zeh Apoline (left), Foan Theolile and Tia Paul are among over 150,000 Ivorian refugees surviving on food aid in Liberia while they wait to return home. Copyright:WFP/Rosilyn Ratliff

With tensions lingering in the West African nation of Côte d'Ivoire, WFP is bringing food assistance to some 150,000 Ivorians who fled to Liberia to escape the recent conflict. In eastern Liberia's lush, cocoa-growing region, three Ivorian refugees tell their stories as they wait to return home. Watch new video

BUUTUO, Liberia -- Still healing from the ravages of Liberia's own civil war, the region around this border town is now hosting refugees from another conflict -- in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire. Since the outbreak of conflict last November, refugee camps across the border have swelled with families who left behind their homes and loved ones in search of safety.

At the site of a food distribution where road-weary families lined up for a warm, nutritious meal, we talked with three refugees who told us their stories:

The Mother Of A Leg Amputee

"I'm too worried about my family to think at all about the future," says Foan Thelile, who came to Liberia after weeks of searching in vain for a doctor to treat her son's foot infection in the Côte d'Ivoire capital of Abidjan. His condition was so serious, that after they arrived across the border, his leg had to be amputated at the knee. Read more

The Cocoa Farmer

"I want to return home as soon as I can," says Tia Paul, who left a prosperous cocoa and coffee farm behind to lead his family of 12 across the Liberian border last November when the fighting broke out. Tia says he's worried about his farm, but grateful to have food to eat and a host family to stay with in the meantime. Read more 

The War Widow

Zeh Apoline lost her husband and three children during the 2002-2004 civil war in Côte d'Ivoire. When fighting broke out in November, she braved a week-long trek across the border and arrived sick and exhausted. Now she's rebuilding her strength in the refugee camp, with the help of regular meals. Read more

Pitching in

Global chocolate and cocoa organizations have joined together to help people living in crisis-torn Côte d'Ivoire. The "Cocoa Industry Relief Fund for the Ivory Coast" was created to support WFP in providing emergency relief to people in the capital, Abidjan, and throughout the country. WFP is also helping refugees in Liberia and other West African states. Read more